Hail damage to asphalt roofing:
This article tells readers how to identify roof shingle hail damage and how to distinguish a hail damaged roof from blister rash damage, foot traffic damage, wind, and other conditions such as shingle rash blistering, cracking, and granule loss associated with normal shingle aging.
We include photographs and text that help identify different types of roof damage and wear, and we discuss up-close examination of wear areas to improve the accuracy of roof damage or wear diagnosis. We explain the role of hailstone size, direction, and velocity in roof damage from hailstorms, and we discuss the role of roof slope or pitch, orientation and other factors in roof wear.
We also include a set of codes that can be used in marking areas of wear or damage on roofs to assist in photo documentation of roof condition. The article includes a list of manufacturers of hail-damage resistant roofing products and invites questions or comments from building owners, roofing experts, insurance company adjusters and roofing manufacturers.
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The dented metal flashing shown in the roof photo just above, contributed by a reader, is compelling evidence that the roof has been exposed to a hail storm. This observation forms part of evidence used in assessing the extent of hail damage to a building roof.
Readers are also invited contribute roof failure information to the web author for research purposes. web author for research purposes.
We invite questions, comments, polite debate, and importantly, sharp photographs of damaged and un-damaged roof shingles to permit us to develop a free public reference library of roof conditions, damage types, and thus to assist in damage assessment.
Hail damage visible from ground level: Start by looking for evidence of hailstorm damage from the ground: mineral granules from asphalt roofing may appear at the ends of downspouts; metal components such as metal siding, air conditioner or heat pump condensers, and of course automobiles left outdoors may be dented or damaged.
Watch out: before investigating further, what we know from the photo above is that mineral granules have washed off of the roof on this building; we don't yet know the cause of granule loss.
Hail-damaged metal components: Justin Reichl (cited at the end of this article) adds that you might see scouring of painted or coated metal surfaces (metal roofing or flashings or gutters) or you may see damage spots on painted or stained wood surfaces at the building as well. Look for hail damage to on-roof components such as dented metal gutters or chimney caps, and valley flashing.
Hail-damaged asphalt roofing: For asphalt shingle roofs or roll-roofing or mineral-granule coated modified bitumen covered roofs, continue hail damage investigation by looking in your roof gutters and on the ground for large amounts of mineral granules lost from the roof. And if you are on-site during the hail storm, record the storm details: storm duration, hail size, wind direction, if you can. Some of the photos immediately below of mineral granules in a previously clean roof gutter, and of actual hailstones (later in this article) were provided by reader L.B. whose roof damage case is discussed below.
Watch out: do not attempt to use ladders nor to access your roof if you don't know how to do so safely; ladder falls are a significant cause of injuries and deaths world-wide.
Areas of lost mineral granules will be apparent, with more severe granule loss on roof slopes facing the direction from which the hailstones fell (or blew) during the storm. Inspecting an asphalt shingle roof shortly after a hail storm, if the roof has been damaged, should show that the areas of mineral granule loss have exposed "fresh" looking shingle substrate - the asphalt impregnated shingle substrate will not yet have been weathered by sun exposure.
Watch out: Hail damage to roof surfaces or coatings is principally an impact damage effect. A close inspection of the surface of an asphalt shingle suffering hail damage might show round areas of impact where shingle granules have been removed, but the size, shape, location, pattern and number of such mineral granule loss areas need to be considered with care because other events can also cause granule loss that takes some care to identify.
For example, depending on wind velocity and direction, a hailstone may not make a direct right-angled impact onto a building surface; its effect might be tear-drop shaped or even streaked.
Hail damaged metal roofing, tile roofing, wood shingle or shake roofs: may be evident as the loss of metal coatings by hail scouring, dents in metal roofing, dents in wood shingles or shakes, or broken clay or concrete tile roof coverings.
The photo of hail-damage to a rooftop air conditioning unit shown above, the damaged B-vent chimney cap shown below, and the hail scoured chimney cap or shroud top also shown below were provided by Justin Reichl, a source cited at the end of this article.
Scouring of coatings or deposits on outdoor or rooftop mounted components can also indicate hail damage. Hail may scour or remove soot or oxidation from a metal chimney cap such as that shown in our reader-contributed photo below.
Hail scouring of coated metal roofing or hail scouring of rooftop chimney caps and shrouds such as the case shown below also confirm exposure of the roof to hail likely to have damaged the roof surface.
Really? The remarkable scouring patterns on the coated metal chimney shroud top shown above looks to me like it wasa treated by a power washer not damaged by hail. However the author (through email correspondent R.F.) explained that they used chalk rubbed along the surface to show-up hail impact dents.
If you are inspecting a building immediately following a hail storm, provided it is safe to go outdoors (no lighting, no large falling hailstones, no other weather-related hazards), you may be able to scoop up a handful of hailstones. If you do, photo-document the size of the hailstones. That data may be useful in an insurance claim as the type of building component or roof surface damage due to hail varies by hail stone size as well as amount of wind, wind direction, roof slope and other factors.
Hail-damaged roof shingles we've seen or which have been sent along to us as in photo form, show more of a "scouring" effect in which larger, more irregularly-shaped areas of shingle surface have lost granules (and thus have produced a shingle nearer the end of its product life than before the storm.
For larger hailstones or wind-driven high-velocity hail stones often you will see rather apparent impact damage removing roof shingle granules in a circular or tear-drop shaped pattern depending on the direction of hailstone movement at the time that it impacted the roof surface.
However hail damage may cause granule loss over wide areas of a roof if that surface was already particularly vulnerable to granule loss, such as an older asphalt shingle roof whose surface included blister rash.
The photo below shows open pits on an asphalt roof shingle; without further investigation we don't know if this mineral granule loss is due to foot traffic, hail, or other wear that could have opened the tops of the blisters of a blister-rash type asphalt shingle.
Also see SHINGLE HAIL DAMAGE vs SHINGLE BLISTER RASH where we point out that where hail damage has been caused by large hailstones you may see denting of metal components on or around buildings, such as dented gutters, aluminum chimney caps, roof vent covers, ridge vent covers, or other metal components located around the building such as aluminum siding dented by hail wind-driven at an angle, A/C or heat pump compressor units.
In distinguishing worn roof shingles or shingles damaged by foot traffic or other wear sources, you may find accompanying hail damage to metal building components that we listed earlier.
Worn or weathered asphalt roof shingles which are losing their mineral granules in the course of normal aging, if inspected early in the wear cycle, already show small areas of granule loss, beginning with bald areas on the shingles which may be just the diameter of a few mineral granules. As the sun and weather wear will accelerate in these "bald" spots or micro-spots, when the inspector sees a larger bald spot it will be also weathered, having developed over time as opposed to having developed suddenly during a storm.
Also see LIFE / WEAR FACTORS in SHINGLES
Confounding this distinction between hail damage and shingle wear as a source of granule loss, is the wear on an older asphalt shingle roof when exposed to a hailstorm. If the roof were worn (and its mineral granules less securely attached to the shingle surface), we posit that roof will lose more granules more quickly in the hail storm than a newer surface.
Reichl also points out that other roofing materials such as metal roofs, fiber cement roofs, wood roofs, built-up roofs and clay or concrete tile roofs can also be damaged by larger hailstones. (Reichl op. cit.)
The impact of hailstones on a roof depends on at least these factors:
The hailstones in your photo look as if they averaged roughly 1 cm or larger (you reported 0.88 inches or 2.2 cm).
A 1 cm hailstone has a theoretical terminal velocity of about 20 mph (9 meters/second). Larger hailstones have a much higher terminal velocity. And a ten-gram hailstone falling from 10 km (this distance is probably more than enough) has a terminal velocity of about 15 meters per second. 
What the experts cite as hailstone terminal velocity is, in my opinion, misleading because that figure does not consider the role of winds that typically occur in a storm, nor the relationship between the angle of the roof and the angle of movement of the hailstone. For example, wind-driven hail may be accelerated beyond simple terminal velocity (gravity).
In LB's "old shingle" shingle photos taken on the roof itself, most of the open pits or craters on shingles where mineral granules have been lost appear to be in relatively flat areas shingles. Mineral granules that have been lost to expose shingle substrate in the center of raised blisters will in at least some instances leave a crater around the pit edges.
Examination of the shingle pits or craters in a stereo microscope such as we use in our lab would be helpful in making this examination.
Storm damage is likely to affect different roof slopes differently as their weather exposure varies.
Look closely at the above photo of an asphalt shingle roof after a hailstorm. In the photo sent to me by a reader) we see cracks in some of the shingles. We would be surprised to learn that the impact of ice pellets on a roof would produce cracking and we pose that the cracks were a preexisting condition on an older shingle roof. (I have seen cracking appear suddenly on asphalt shingles in response to cold weather, in the form of thermal splitting however, a failure for which we have a very different explanation and a different cracking pattern than shown in the photo here--DF.)
Look at the uniformity of roof defects over the field of a given slope to help understand the probable cause. Blistering of asphalt shingles caused by the product itself might appear uniform over all of the roof on all slopes independent of weather exposure.
In other cases, if only a few bundles of shingles were defective, say from improper manufacture or storage, asphalt shingle blistering may appear in shingles in a specific pattern on a roof following the application pattern of the shingles themselves as they were nailed to the roof. Since roof shingles from a single bundle are usually applied over a single area of a roof, this pattern and cause may be self-evident on close inspection of the whole roof.
While many roof inspectors and home inspectors are expected to be un-biased neutral professionals, we cannot assume that this is always the case. The building owner should consider possible sources of conflicting interests on the part of the person performing the inspection. These conflicting interests can occur in both expected and less obvious ways:
In sum, ask the roof inspector for specific details that support his or her conclusions about the condition of the roof and about what caused its damage or wear. An inspector who offers only the "bottom line conclusion" with no supporting evidence, does not deserve the confidence of the building owner.
For a professional investigation of hail damage to asphalt shingles, see "Hail Damage to Asphalt Roof Shingles", Timothy P. Marshall, Richard F. Hertzog, Scott J. Morrison, Haag Engineering, Dallas TX.
This topic has moved to SHINGLE HAIL DAMAGE vs SHINGLE BLISTER RASH
Now found at SHINGLE HAIL DAMAGE REPLICATION
Now moved to SHINGLE HAIL DAMAGE CHALK MARKING CODES
This topic is now found at SHINGLE HAIL DAMAGE RESISTANT PRODUCTS
See METAL ROOFING
Also see PLASTIC ROOFING TYPES for examples of impact resistant roof materials.
The photo at page top [and shown again at left] in this web article on roof damage inspections shows a circle with a line drawn thru and FT which I figure is meant to indicate "front". What does the circle with the line indicate? Appreciate your help. - R.B.
The chalk marks were made on the roof by a local inspector. In our roof damage photo shown at left and above the circle/slash was an area where the roof inspector opined there was no damage, and the "FT" marked above that spot was being used to indicate granule loss due to foot traffic.
Details about chalk codes used to mark on roofs during inspections and to indicate observations are in the article above at Convention for roof damage chalk marking codes.
One thing to look at with regards to shingle scouring is if there are any chunks of roofing material (that broke away from the area due to the hail hitting it) left on the surface of the roof after the hail storm. I do not believe that hail damage is only defined as if there was an indentation in the shingle due to the hail. The impact of the hail, in combination with a rapid temperature drop in the shingle due to the icing effect of the hail can cause the shingle to delaminate and loose parts of the shingle when impacted by a hail stone. - Martin Rizzo 6/21/11
Thanks for the helpful comments about hail damage Martin. What you say makes a lot of sense. We agree.
There was a hail storm in Phoenix, AZ, in October 2010. I was out of the country at the time. I have returned in April 2012. I am in the process of determining if there were hail damage on my roof currently. The insurance inspector claim there was no hail damage on the roof except on the AC condenser and some of the window screen. The inspector claimed the damages seen on the roof were mainly due to weather and acid from the bird dropping. Is is possible for me to send some photos to you to obtain your opinion? Thank you in advance for your time and help in this matter. - PSF Chan 5/24/12
Bird droppings are not likely to produce a shingle scouring / granule loss pattern that would in the slightest be mistaken for hail damage. Even if we buy the "acid damage" claim (which I don't) the birds would have to poop uniformly over an entire roof and the effect would have to be granule loss without remnants of guano.
I'd like to see some sharp photos both of the whole roof, all slopes, and of the slope where the damage seems apparent to you, and sharp close ups of the shingle damage area details. Use the CONTACT US link found on any website page.
We've been told by [our insurance company] that this is the result of manufacturer defect. We filed a warranty claim with GAF and they claim their lab results indicate that the shingles are still up the MFG spec and this is hail damage. They will not cover this under warranty. I've been told by 3 separate people (contractors and adjuster) that they've never seen shingles this bad before and that this is a serious defect.
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April 12th we had a significant hail storm come through and many in the immediate area (next door neighbors) received full roof replacements and none of them looked like this. These are over a majority of the roof. Are you able to provide any advice or information on what this is and who we could contact to verify GAF's claims? GAF will not supply copies of their lab analysis. ...
It was brought to my attention by an adjuster that even if this was a defect the hail damage is a subsequent loss and should still be covered under the ensuing loss clause in our policy. - J.F. 8/12/14
I looked at your photos with interest, though there was not enough information for me to have a confident opinion.
I saw what looked like fragile edges to the bald areas where granules were lost that could indeed suggest recent hail damage and granule loss.
But I also saw weathering [whitening, loss of asphalt] of the exposed shingle substrate black asphalt-filled surface that would have suggested old granule loss. Then I re-read in your note that the hail storm occurred last April.
If your photos of April believed-hail-damage were taken in August, about 4 months later, possibly the whitish weathering I saw occurred on the exposed shingle substrate during that interval.
What I could not see in the shingle photos was good evidence supporting a shingle defect assertion by the insurance company but that doesn't mean they're wrong. For example, if there was surface blistering on the shingles from time of installation, a fabrication artifact that the manufacturers assert is of only cosmetic import, then those shingles would indeed be more vulnerable to impact damage from hail - which breaks the blister tops and leaves substrate exposed.
Unfortunately even if that were the explanation for this case, we're left in a finger-pointing contest. The granule loss will be blamed on hail by the manufacturer who has an arguable position, while the granule loss brought on by hail but really occurring in the exact locations where it did because there was blistering will be mustered as a shingle defect argument by the insurer.
When you said there were lab tests - were shingle samples sent to the manufacturer for testing? And if so, did you point out to GAF that if they refuse to provide test lab results that makes their report to you not only less credible, but puts you in an impossible position with your insurance company? You'd think that if an independent shingle test lab report supports a particular argument made by GAF then they'd be willing to provide the supporting data.
About ensuing loss - that's the value of hiring an expert, independent adjuster who understands insurance policy language - ultimately that may be your best bet.
Also missing from the discussion is a more clear interpretation of the present condition of the shingles and (for you and your adjuster) what that means as a possible basis for insurance claim.
More specifically, roof shingles with bald areas where no protective mineral granules remain are going to wear at an accelerated rate, speeding the time when either leaks occur (risking costly building damage or mold contamination) or when roof replacement is needed to prevent such leaks.
I would like some clarification from GAF on what was meant by shingles being "within specification" since in my opinion, no asphalt roof shingles with notable bald areas can be considered having a long remaining service life.
In sum, sorry but from just your photos I am not confident about a conclusion. I'd need to see more, better images, test reports, or to have on-roof access.
As this case report illustrates, multiple signs of wear or damage may be present on on a roof as well as other roof shingle features that may be mistaken for damage. Sorting these out can confound insurance adjustment claims and conflicts of interest may lurk where an inspector doesn't want to upset the insurance company or where he or she stands to profit by performing repair work on the building.
Reader Question: My Denver, CO neighborhood was hit with 2 major hail storms - June 4 and June 24. I called my insurance company June 26 and they sent out a roofer the same day. He went up on the roof for a few minutes. He told me he did not see hail damage.
He said I have a Manufacturing defect.
I attach photos he took. I believe they're from a north facing slope with the lowest pitch - east of the gable front. The roof has various pitches some of which are quite steep. In a separate email, I will send you house photos. The roof was installed in 2001 and the shingles are Atlas StormMasterLM with a 40 year warranty.
The stucco front porch was enclosed in 2004 and the roof over that portion has identical shingles installed. In 2008, the addition which has the bay window in the back yard was built and also used the identical shingles.
Please can you give me your assessment. Thanks for your help. - Name withheld. 28 June 2015
Of your three photos, two show dark rectangular areas of shading on the shingles (marked by red rectangles) - most likely a deliberate manufacturing artifact to give shading and texture to the roof appearance and definitely not hail damage. Hailstones won't leave a regular vertically or horizontally delineated mark on individual roof shingles.
But on two of your photos my yellow arrows point to granule loss that could be due to scouring from hailstones or from breaking opening of roof blistering due to hailstone impact.
The center photo above shows what could certainly be hail damage and the black bald open shingle in the right-most photo could also certainly be due to hail damage.
Take a look at the hail damage article and the shingle blistering article series at InspectApedia.com. These topics are related. Shingle manufacturers assert that shingle blisters are a harmless manufacturing artifact. But hail impacting shingle blisters can leave exposed shingle substrate such as shown in your ...0613 photo earlier than that would otherwise appear. The result is typically not an immediate roof leak but a reduction in remaining roof life.
To help sort out roof wear (or defective shingle product) from storm damage I would consider the following:
Defective shingle product effects will show up on all roof slopes (unless the roofer did not install the same product on all slopes) with variations in the extent of defect appearance as a function of roof slope, sun exposure and the occasional appearance of individual bundles of shingles that were defective - for example due to improper storage. (More sun, lower slope = faster shingle wear). Some defective products show up as individual shingle damage amidst a field of shingles that otherwise look OK. Other types of defective shingle product such as cracking are described at InspectApedia.com
Hail damage will also show up on all roof slopes, will be uniform across an individual slope, but is likely to be more severe on lower roof slopes and on slopes that were facing the principal direction of hailstone impact (where wind is a factor).
Inspecting your roof, for example, if we saw shingle blisters on all slopes but open shingle blisters after a hail storm appearing principally on low slopes or slopes facing the primary direction of impact of the hailstones, that would be a compelling argument for a hail-damaged roof.
I need to develop a course of action. Should I seek additional inspections by roofers? If they confirm there is hail damage, I can then put in a claim to my insurance company and hope they will not fight me on this? As the main roof is 14 years old, is it worthwhile to make a claim against the manufacturer? (I don't have paperwork on the 2 newer sections.)
I see that I would get maybe only half the cost of the main roof shingles. I assume they make a cash payment and then I could choose new shingles from any manufacturer? Given the dimensions and slope of my roof, do you have any recommendations on which shingles to choose? - Anon.
You need an unbiased on-site expert. I would not be overly optimistic on collecting on roof warranties unless you've the energy to be a squeaky hinge - ok so that's a poor analogy but you get the idea.
On a 14 year old roof, to make a warranty claim we need to know the roof shingle product and the details of the roof warranty that applies. If your roof is close to end of rated life or warranted life it's not worth spending much on arguing. Same with the insurance company.
See HAIL DAMAGED SHINGLES for more help in recognizing hail damaged shingles, and do keep me posted.
The decision on replacement shingles depends in part on how long you intend to remain in the home.
Thanks so much for your advice. Perhaps I will get an independent assessment as well as make a claim so an adjuster comes out. The gutters are badly pitted and some screens have small tears so I think it's worth it. The storms were strong enough to break several limbs on my ash trees.
I will let you know how it turns out - Anon, 28 June 2015
Here's my update. I had other roofers take a look. One of their photos of hail damage is below. They all said I had significant hail damage. It was noted there was pitting which could be caused by blisters (defect?) but there was separately lots of hail damage.
I had an insurance adjuster come out and he said I needed a complete new roof, new gutters, replacement of various window screens and cladding, replacement of exterior post lights, re-staining fence, etc.!
So, it seems a bit fishy that the roofer sent out by the agent initially said I had no damage. Do you have any comments?
I do have one question. I have 2 Velux skylights in the vaulted roof. They do not appear to have any damage. The adjuster and the roofer said they would just get new Velux flashing kits for them. Online, the consensus seems to be that the skylights should be replaced when the roof is replaced. What is your opinion? - Anon, 22 July 2015
Regrettably there are often conflicts of interest. A building inspector whose opinions are costing the insurance company more than the company feels is appropriate may find herself or himself out of a job. Similarly, some real estate agents will not refer home buyers to home inspectors who inspect and report thoroughly because they're afraid that their deal may be hampered - which is too bad since it's rare to find conditions so costly that buying a home is unreasonable.
See CONFLICTS OF INTEREST for details.
The last photo you sent certainly looks like hail damage to me.
The opinion that skylights should be replaced when a roof is replaced makes sense only if the skylights are an older leak-prone type. Modern Velux skylights should be re-usable when flashed with new flashing kits.
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Is it known whether this man and his situation with blisters vs hail damage mentioned above ever won his case with his insurance co? I too have the same problem. - Tom McLaughlin 8/22/11
No Tom, we have not had more feedback, though the case described above was unusually well documented.
Why are there no concrete roof tile products mentioned under hail resistant roofing? Are they not more durable than asphalt shingles? - Robert Joseph 7/10/12
Robert, we agree that concrete roof tiles are more hail resistant than thinner softer products such as asphalt shingles. This article is about recognizing hail damage to asphalt shingles and distinguishing hail damage from other types of asphalt roof wear such as granule loss, blistering, foot traffic, cracking, &c. The issue of distinguishing hail from other wear on concrete roof tiles has not arisen, though I speculate that in extreme cases such as baseball sized hail that occurs in some locales, all roof materials, including concrete, tile, slate and stone can suffer damage as well. See Hail Damage Resistant Roofing Products.
What warrants replacement of entire roof versus repairing only damage shingles from hailstones? How many hail stone hits per square warrant entire roof replacement? Thanks - Anon
When testing for hail stone hits, how do you conclude which area to test? From an adjuster's view, do you choose the best square or most damaged square? - Anon
If the roof is worn out and leaking it needs replacement;
If the roof has been hail-scoured but is not leaking and not at immediate end of life in the view of an unbiased expert, then replacing it is not appropriate nor cost justified. If I were an insurance adjuster, in my OPINION, I would consider giving a pro-rated allowance for hail damage on a roof by figuring out
- the roof's remaining life before the hail damage occurred (infer this by examining non-scoured shingles or non-scoured roof slopes as often hail is directional and so damage is not at all uniform)
- the estimated reduction in remaining roof life because of the hail damage
- if some slopes were not hail damaged at all I'd exclude them from the adjustment
I don't think the answer to amount of damage is based on number of stone hits per square, but rather, we should look carefully at the shingles to see the total extent of granule loss over the whole roof, and the DEPTH of granule loss on shingles, and in particular, if there is bald shingle substrate exposed on shingles, those individual shingles have a short remaining life (to be more specific we need to consider slope, age, climate and other factors).
If I inspect a roof with 10% (or some other TBD %) of the shingles on a given slope having 1/4 to 1/2" absolutely bald spots on the shingles, showing the shingle substrate, for an organic OR fiberglass shingle, in my opinion the safe reliable remaining life of that roof slope is less than 5 years. As an insurance adjuster (which I am not, though I do advise insurers and adjusters as a neutral professional), in deciding to offer an allowance and to encourage roof replacement within that period, I would be considering also a wish to reducce or even avoid the risk of a future property loss due to a roof leak on a roof that should have been replaced sooner.
I welcome debate on these questions in order to arrive at as consistent and fair an assessment procedure as we can.
(Dec 15, 2015) Keith Kosmin said:
I have a question. We had a hail storm last May. There was a lot of hail but they were all small diameter. I was most concerned about my vehicles which were parked outside due to a project set up in my garage. After the storm, I checked the vehicles and none had hail damage. About a week later my neighbor mentioned that he was getting a roof replacement due to hail damage. Many neighbors have now also had roof replacements done.
From the ground, I can see no damage as described in this article. I did see a small amount of roofing granuals on the driveway. My house is several years newer than the surrounding houses and is a two story house with a steeper roof pitch than the neighbors. The roof is about eight years old and a contractor for my neighbor said my roof shingles were much more expensive than typical. I bought this house five years ago and have no information on the type asphalt shingle installed. I'm worried that I'm passing up an insurance claim, but also have a very high deductible for this type damage. Should I be concerned?
A close-up inspection of the roof gutters and also of the ground surface at the ends of your downspouts will be a useful quick-test of the problem. If there was notable granule loss you'll see the granules from your shingles in one or both of those locations.
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