Whether assessing a large commercial building or a single family residence for hail damage, the process starts before even stepping foot on the roof. A visual inspection of fences, mailboxes, posts, signs, wall finishes, light fixtures, and utility boxes can give valuable clues as to the size and the direction of the hail storm. “Spatter” marks on exterior metal and plastic surfaces, as illustrated in Figure 1, provide information as to the size of the hailstones and the storm direction.
With the information gathered on the ground, we now inspect the roof. The first thing to observe is any roof appurtenances, such as pop-up roof vents, roof mounted equipment, and furnace vents. Roof appurtenances, especially those made of aluminum, will likely be dented from hail strikes, and such dents are an aid to identifying the hailstone size.
Now, for residential roofs, it’s time to inspect each face of the roof. At random, mark a 10-foot by 10-foot square with chalk on the north, south, east, and west face of the roof; these will be the test squares where we mark and count the hail strikes. Hail strikes on an asphalt shingled roof will have displaced granules, as illustrated in Figure 2, and the impact location will “give” when you press them with your thumb; the “give” is a sign that the reinforcing fiber mat within the asphalt shingle has been fractured. If possible, lift up the butt end of the shingle to see if the underside of the shingle is fractured. Other observations to note in the test square are nail pops, blisters, product defects, installation defects, torn shingles, missing shingles, mechanical damage, and signs of aging/weathering.
It is important to note that although a roof may have been impacted by hail, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the roof has been functionally damaged. Functional damage is damage that reduces the water-shedding capabilities of the roof and/or the long-term expectant life of the roof. Cosmetic damage is not a threshold for roof repair or replacement. Examples of cosmetic damage include “peppering” of an algae stained roof, spatter on wood shakes, or a chipped shingle edge.
If you have a hail damage claim that you need assistance with, give the professionals at Western Engineering a call! We can help!