The roof is responsible for shielding residents and personal belongings inside a home from severe weather elements, such as ultraviolet rays, snow and hail. Consisting of irregular lumps of ice, hail is considered one of the most dreaded powerful forces of nature and can damage homes, along with cars and outdoor furniture. In fact, even a minor hailstorm can dramatically disfigure or impair roofing structures in the long run, especially when one is old, not kept in the proper condition or has been significantly damaged by harsh weather in the past. It is also important to be on the lookout for hair-splitting signs, such as shingle granules collecting in the gutters or chipped corners on clay roof tiles, for they are quite easy to miss. If left unchecked, the damage will exacerbate over time, resulting in expensive repairs or an urgent need to replace the roof.
In this article, a reputable roofing contractor explores the factors that determine how much damage hail does to a roof, including indications of hail damage on a roof.
How Does Hail Form?
Hail is a form of solid precipitation that can cause mild to serious damage to roofing structures, building exterior walls and vehicles. Hail formation is fairly simple. In freezing temperatures, a hailstone will forge around minuscule nuclei drifting in the air, like a speck of dust or a water droplet. The wind will carry this budding hailstone into the storm clouds up high. There, the hailstone will swiftly freeze and expand in size, picking up more moisture from the rain as it is hurled lower into the atmosphere. However, the storm currents will seize hold of this chunk of emerging hail and force it to freeze once more.
The more Herculean the storm winds become, the longer the hail will travel back and forth between freezing and non-freezing temperatures, allowing it to increase in size. Finally, the hailstone will be released and then plummet down to the ground, wreaking havoc on ground-level structures. If this happens, an emergency roof repair service may be due.
How Fast Does Hail Fall?
No one knows the exact rate at which hailstones fall. After all, the speed of each hailstone plummeting to the ground is unique based on its dimensions. However, experts have introduced helpful estimates. For example, for small hailstones, which are less than one inch in diameter, the anticipated speed of fall is between nine and 25 mph. On the other hand, hailstones typically found in a severe thunderstorm, which general measurements are one to 1.75 inches in diameter, are expected to fall at between 25 to 40 mph.
How Does Hail Damage a Roof?
The severity of hail damage to a roof largely depends on four factors. These include:
1. Hailstone Size, Shape and Density
As hinted before, hailstones greatly vary in size, shape and density. Most experts believe that hailstones larger than three centimeters cause the most damage. Large-sized hailstones that high winds have expedited are known to puncture aging, weaker roofing structures. Meanwhile, jagged hailstones with sharp, rough edges appear to be more threatening on impact. A roof with multiple layers of shingles tends to be more susceptible to penetration from smaller-sized hailstones since this sort of hail can thwack the delicate support area under the top layer of shingles without much of a hassle.
According to roof repair contractors, a lot of homeowners want to know whether a pea-sized hailstone can inflict damage to a roof. The cold truth is, even the most minor impact from hail can prompt the presence of leaks and other alarming problems, compromising the long-term value, durability and overall safety of the roof.
2. Roof Age and Condition
The age and condition of the roof are two of the leading factors that determine the extent or degree of damage hail does to a roof. This means a roofing system that has become weaker with old age or has been neglected for several years, collecting many types of injuries caused by harsh climate or weather conditions, attracts a higher risk of hail damage compared to a newer, well-maintained roof.
For example, homeowners with wood shake roofing should expect it to last for approximately 30 years, whereas asphalt shingle roofs last about 20 years, the NAHB found. However, weather conditions, such as wind, snow and hail, can cut the estimated useful life of all types of roofs. So, even if your roofing system is not yet approaching the end of its estimated lifespan, but is uncared for, failing to receive necessary repairs and maintenance over the years, there is a great chance that it will break down and fail a lot sooner than anticipated. This can leave you without a safe and comfortable shelter during the next severe weather.
The wind is another glaring facet of hail damage. Its speed, intensity and direction during the hailstorm event notably affect the seriousness of hail damage and, consequently, the extent of emergency roof repair service that will ensue. Gusts of fast-moving winds inflict tremendous damage, if not the most damage, for they influence the angle and velocity of the impact.
4. Physical Barriers
The good news is, there are physical barriers or structural obstacles in the environment that can help impede or slow down the mobility of hail and therefore shield the roof from the intense impact of a hailstorm event. Some examples of these barriers include large, tall trees, landscaping items or bordering structures situated next-door, such as fences and privacy screens and neighboring buildings.
What Are the Signs of Roof Hail Damage?
Once the clouds have disappeared and the skies have cleared, it is vital to walk around your home and investigate any form of damage resulting from hailstones or high winds. It is worthwhile to be thorough with your roof inspection. Remember, any minor or major problems that go undetected will only worsen and become more expensive to fix as time goes on. A roofing professional will inspect the several areas and components:
1. Roof Vents, Chimneys and Skylights
First, a roof repair contractor will check your roof vents, which are often made of lightweight material, for dings, dents and chipped surfaces. Cracks on a plastic vent or dents on a metal vent are clear indications that your roof has been struck with large, heavy hail. Next, the roofer will inspect the metal flashing around the chimney and look for dents. If your roof has skylights, cracked or broken glass should also be scanned during the inspection.
Do not forget to inspect the gutters. While steel gutters often survive a hailstorm event without much damage, seamless gutters made with aluminum or copper construction are likely to show symptoms of impairment, like dimpling or denting. Vinyl gutters, on the other hand, may have punctures or cracks.
3. Roof Shingles
Of course, roof shingles can also suffer great damage from hail, that is why it is crucial to call in a roofing contractor as soon as possible. However, note that each roofing material tends to absorb and react differently to hail impact.
For example, hail may break or crack asphalt shingles, wearing out the protective granules and exposing them to further water-related damage. Wooden shingles may split or warp when under attack from hail, while metal roofing can often instantly crack during a hailstorm. Finally, with clay, concrete or slate roofs, the worst-case scenario is that the material will break due to hail impact. Cracks or gouges may appear and tiles may be broken.
Let Villwell Builders, LLC Help You Achieve Your Dream Exterior
For top-rated home improvement solutions in and around Waterbury, CT, look no further than Villwell Builders, LLC. Our experienced and certified team repairs, installs and maintains roof, siding, decks, additions, windows and more. We are committed to providing the comfort and efficiency every homeowner needs through industry-leading products and outstanding customer service. Call us today at (203) 879-2118 or fill out our contact form to request a free, no-obligation estimate. We look forward to working with you!