A guide to prepare for, check and repair hail damage

Hail can damage your roof. Ranging up to golf-ball size, hailstones can entail roof repairs or replacement. But you need to first check out the extent of damage.
Hailstones falling on your head aren’t as nice as raindrops, especially when the frozen drops of water can range from pea size up to the diameter of golf balls.

And while you take refuge in your house, your roof will have to bear the brunt of the storm. There are stories about people in five-minute hailstorms who must replace their roofs afterwards, because of the battering. In the summer of 2012, a hailstorm in Alberta caused an estimated $552 million in insurance damage to property, including roofs, windows, and even dented cars.

Though you can escape without harm, it’s always best to check your roof in a timely manner, to see if you need to call up your insurer and get a professional roofer on the job.

A guide to prepare for, check and repair hail damage

Let your eyes settle on the metal

First check metal bits on your roof for dents and damage (the size of the dents will tell you the size of the hail, in case you didn’t know). Check metal roof vents, flashing, and gutters. Also check the ridge cap for dents, since this area will bear the full force in the storm.

A bad case of shingles

Next inspect your shingles for damage. Asphalt shingles may show a bruise — a dark spot where the granules have been knocked off. (Also check your gutters and downspouts to see if a lot of granules have been shaken off and found their way there.) If the bruises aren’t visible, run your hands over the shingle surfaces to feel for dimples left from the hail. If the indents are mushy, then you may have a problem.

Of course, cracked shingles and missing shingles or parts of shingles are definite signs of damage.

With wood shingles/shakes, splits also indicate hail damage. A weathering split will typical look aged, with a grey, dull appearance. A split from hail will appear raw and orange.

How to prepare for a hailstorm

First you could stay away from hail-prone areas (see note above about Alberta). If this is not an option, then you can take some common-sense precautions, such as covering skylights if a storm seems imminent, making sure that your roof and siding are properly maintained, removing overhanging tree branches that could be knocked off, and, if replacing your roof, installing impact-resistant material.

Most important, check that your home insurance is up to date and actually covers hail damage.

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