Hail Damage To Roofs And Siding

All hail!  Spring begins the hail season.  Every year!

Hail is a weather event that can cost us!  It costs homeowners some $1 billion annually in roof and siding claims.

I recently had a "roofer" come to my house saying that I had hail damage on my roof - FROM A HAIL EVENT THAT HAD HAPPENED A YEAR AND A HALF EARLIER!   He said they would do all the work with the insurance company and that it would cost me nothing!

Not remembering such an event, I immediately dismissed him as a scam artist and not a roofer.  But I went up and looked at my roof nonetheless.  Finding nothing I contacted a friend who is a roofer for twenty years (I refer him a lot - he is on my very short list of referred contractors).  Coming to the house, he confirmed my suspicion that there was no hail damage.  He did make other recommendations, which I went with, and he "tuned-up" my roof.

Many houses in our neighborhood had their roofs replaced, with this "company" apparently doing their negotiations.

Insurance companies have very sophisticated ways of determining if there has been hail damage.  They measure dimples, hail direction, and the like.

I am less sophisticated in my analysis - I look at metal ridge-vent denting, severe granular damage on the shingles and I look for extensive granular discharge at the bottoms of downspouts.

Insurance companies look for those indicators also.


Small ice cubes, essentially, pellets of frozen water vapor that develop inside thunderstorm clouds.

Warm air rises from the ground and meets very cold air moving downward from inside the large, puffy clouds.  Rain gets carried upward by the warm air, and into freezing temperatures. 

Small "stones" develop, fall and thaw, completely or partially into small spheres.

This freezing, thawing, re-freezing cycle can happen over and over again, with these small spheres getting larger each time.  The eventually-larger and heavier, frozen spheres fall, carried downward by the cold air drafts.  The larger the hail stones, the more damage they can produce!

Hail that is about the size of a half dollar, or 1 1/4" in diameter, is what it takes to damage newer composite asphalt or wood-shake shingles.  That is about the size of the coin you see to the left (and 1953 was a VERY good year...).


For older roofs damage can be demonstrated when the stones get to be about the size of a nickel, or 3/4".

Here is where the game begins.  The "contractor" then comes to the house, after the storm is in the recent or long past, and claims you have damage.  He will fix it for you!

When there is a hail storm with stones of 3/4" or more, it will definitely make the news.  If you don't remember such an event, like in my case where the "contractor" claimed there was such a storm a year and a half earlier, do your own research!  And if you have damage, find a bona fide* roofer!  Your insurance company will help to determine if there was damage, but a bona fide roofer will be able to make your case.

My recommendation:  hail is an odd circumstance.  It can affect one side of a street and not the other.  Damage can be severe on one side and not so severe on the other.  This can be true even on one side of a roof and not the other!  It really does take investigation.  But be sure your investigator is a bona fide contractor, and not the fly-by-night operator there to make a quick buck.  False claims help nobody.

* The words "bona fide" come from the Latin words meaning "with good faith."

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Jay performs inspections Monday through Saturday, throughout Northern Virginia, from his office in Bristow to Leesburg and Centreville, to Great Falls and Vienna and everywhere in between!