If there’s anything Minnesota is known for other than lakes, it’s cold weather. Along with the legendary winter snows and notoriously icy winds, one thing every Minnesotan homeowners must worry about is hail damage. These little balls of ice don’t just sting when they hit a person, they are also notorious for doing significant damage to vehicles and the rooftops of any buildings unlucky enough to be caught in the storm. Even worse, hail isn’t limited to the winter. Because of the way hail forms and how it falls, it’s not unusual for Minnesotans to see hail in the spring and even the warm days of summer and every time hail falls, you’ll need to assess the damages.
The Damage a Hail Stone Can Do
Unlike other kinds of precipitation, hail doesn’t just fall out of the sky onto the people, cars, and houses below. It blows around in the upper atmosphere for a while, caught on high winds and upward drafts. Each frozen droplet collects more unfrozen droplets which then freeze to it, ‘snowballing’ up the size of each hailstone until it is heavy enough to fall. Of course, this isn’t snow. Hail is hard ice, just like what you get out of your ice-maker at home and it hits just as hard as if someone had dropped an ice-cube from a mile off the ground.
At 32 feet per second, per second, each individual hailstone builds up a powerful velocity before finally making landfall (or roof-fall), which is why those tiny balls of ice seem to do so much damage. And, of course, every hail storm comes with thousands of falling balls of ice. Hail is notorious for leaving dents, pock-marks, and even cracking whatever it lands on. And, unfortunately, anyone who lives in a hail-prone region like Minnesota will find themselves regularly repairing hail damage in order to live a normal, comfortable life.
Hail Damage and Your Roof
If you own a home, hail damage is more than just annoying, it can put the integrity of your entire home at risk. A single hailstone might only damage one shingle, but the widespread damage that a hail storm can do has been known to fully destroy your roof’s ability to keep out the elements. Too many pocked, cracked, and loosened shingles can break the seal created by asphalt roofing, meaning that the next time it rains in your neighborhood, your roof might begin to leak and allow water damage to begin forming in your home.
The problem, of course, is knowing when repairs are actually necessary. Not every hailstorm leaves ever roof a complete mess, otherwise you would see roofers making the rounds every time ice falls from the sky. Instead, it tends to be a cumulative effect. Whether or not your roof is at risk for leaking depends on how many shingles are damaged, and how damaged they are, along with the concentration of damage. If one part of your roof for some reason took a greater beating than the rest, you may need localized repairs while the rest of the roof only needs minor touch-ups.
Even if all your hail damage seems minor, too much widespread hail damage can significantly accellerate the wear and tear of your roof and make it less resistant to the sun’s rays as well. This is because hail not only breaks shingles and dents metal, it also knocks the sun-resistant granules off of composite asphalt roof shingles. So does your roof need repairs or will you survive the next few rains and one more hail storm as-is?
How to Spot Hail Damage to Your Roof
The first step is to be aware of just how much damage has been done. This requires an up-close look at your roof which means someone with a ladder and very sure footing. How much you can do your own roof inspection will depend on your personal agility and confidence walking on a roof. The easiest way to get a quick, safe look is to simply climb the ladder and taking a look without getting onto the roof itself. If you do climb onto your own roof, be very careful about lingering hailstones and shingles that may come loose under your feet as the result of hail damage.
For homeowners who are not confident on a ladder, your local roofing service can visit to perform an inspection after major storms to ensure there is no serious damage or recommend needed repairs.
Pock-Marks or “Craters”
The most recognizable sign of hail are those distinct crater marks, like the surface of the moon. These pock-marks or craters can be seen on almost any kind of roof that has been through hail damage. Tile shingles will show craters in the form of chips while asphalt and metal will look dented, exactly as if a tiny ball of ice hit them at high velocity and then bounced away.
Craters damage the surface integrity of your roof and, with asphalt or tile, they also usually mark where weather-resistant coating has been removed.
Of course, hail doesn’t always leave just a small mark behind. Sometimes a hail stone will hit hard enough to crack a shingle, or several hail stones in a row will do the trick. Look for shingles that have cracked off a corner, in half, or along a diagonal where too much force was applied. These shingles may still be partially or even fully attached, but severely damaged.
The equivalent of a cracked shingle for metal roofs is a hole punched all the way through, which is rare but possible with large high-velocity hail stones. Both cracks and holes are damage that needs to be repaired immediately.
A hailstorm hits each shingle dozens to thousands of times, shaking them with each impact. This constant uneven force can shake shingles loose from their nails and weaken already damaged adhesive. This means that hail storms have the ability to shake shingles loose whether or not the surface of the shingle takes significant damage. You can see this effect when shingles pile in roof valleys and sometimes with singles that are loose in-place.
Even if there is not a deep crater or crack in a composite asphalt roof shingle, your roof may have taken enough damage to be noteworthy and in need of eventual repair. The granules on roofing shingles are weather resistant and contribute to how your roof keeps the home safe. Too much impact, from anything, can shake or scrape them off reducing the effective ness of your roof. This is often most obvious if you find granules in the gutter or on the ground along the edge of the roof, but can also be identified on the roof itself.
One of the most obvious forms of damage are shingles that are fully missing. These are often found a few feet away on the roof or in your yard, but sometimes the wind in a hail storm will blow them away entirely. Missing shingles are a place where your roof is unprotected or no longer protected enough.
Light in the Attic
The final way to tell if your roof took serious damage is to visit the attic. If you can see sunlight coming through the roof or see signs of water damage, you will need repairs immediately.
When Roof Hail Damage is Serious
If you spot one or more signs of real hail damage on your roof, it’s time to think about repairs. Just a few granules knocked loose is a small worry but any major damage to the surface of your roof should be reason for concern. If your roof seems damaged, call a local roofing service to perform an inspection and any necessary repairs. This way, your roof will be ready to withstand the next few Minnesota storms. For more information about hail damage or finding a Minnesota roofer near you, contact us today!