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Hail Damage to Asphalt Shingles: An In-Depth Examination

Imagine a scenario where the tranquility of a sunny day is abruptly disrupted by a cacophony of loud thuds hitting your roof. You rush outside to witness a hailstorm pummeling your property, and the aftermath leaves you pondering the state of your roof.

This is a situation that many homeowners have faced at one point or another. Hailstorms, while relatively infrequent in some regions, can wreak havoc on asphalt shingle roofs.

What Is Hail?

Definition of Hail

Hail is a form of precipitation characterized by the falling of frozen water droplets, known as hailstones, from the sky. These hailstones are hard, often spherical, and can vary in size from small pellets to large, golf ball-sized spheres or even larger.

Formation of Hail

Hail forms within strong thunderstorms, which are characterized by updrafts that can carry raindrops upward into extremely cold areas of the atmosphere, where they freeze. These frozen raindrops then serve as nuclei around which additional supercooled water droplets freeze, creating layers of ice.

Throughout the storm, as the hailstone travels up and down, it accumulates layers and grows in size until it surpasses the storm's updraft capacity and falls to the ground.

Factors Influencing Hail Size

Several factors can influence the size of hailstones, including:

Updraft Strength: Stronger updrafts can keep hailstones suspended in the storm for a longer time, allowing them to grow larger.

Temperature: Colder temperatures at higher altitudes promote the formation of larger hailstones.

Supercooled Water: The presence of abundant supercooled water in the storm cloud can lead to larger hailstones.

Now that we have a basic understanding of what hail is and how it forms, let's explore how hail can damage asphalt shingles.

How Does Hail Damage Asphalt Shingles?

Hail damage to asphalt shingles can be quite extensive, and understanding the mechanisms behind this damage is essential for homeowners, roofing professionals, and insurance companies. Hail damage manifests in several ways:

1. Impact Damage: The most obvious form of hail damage to asphalt shingles is impact damage. When hailstones strike the shingles with force, they can cause visible dents, cracks, or fractures in the shingle material. These impacts compromise the structural integrity of the shingles and can lead to further problems.

2. Granule Loss: Asphalt shingles are coated with granules on their surface, which serve multiple functions, including protecting the underlying asphalt from UV radiation, providing fire resistance, and enhancing the shingle's aesthetic appeal. Hail impacts can dislodge these granules, exposing the asphalt layer beneath. Granule loss can accelerate shingle deterioration, leading to premature ageing and a decreased lifespan.

3. Shingle Bruising: Hail damage can result in what is often referred to as "shingle bruising." This occurs when hailstones hit the shingle with enough force to cause localized damage without necessarily cracking the shingle. Bruised shingles may appear dimpled or discoloured and can be more susceptible to subsequent damage.

4. Shingle Splitting: In some cases, hail impacts can cause asphalt shingles to split along their edges or in the middle. Split shingles are highly vulnerable to water infiltration, which can lead to leaks and further roof damage.

5. Weakened Seal Strips: Asphalt shingles have adhesive seal strips that help bond adjacent shingles together. Hail impacts can weaken or break these seal strips, compromising the shingle's ability to shed water effectively. This can result in water infiltration, which can lead to leaks and water damage.

6. Underlying Roof Damage: Hail damage is not always limited to the shingles themselves. The force of hail impacts can also damage the underlying roof structure, including the decking and underlayment. If these components are compromised, it can lead to more significant and costly roof repairs.

The Impact of Hail Damage on Asphalt Shingle Roofs

Hail damage to asphalt shingle roofs can have several significant consequences for homeowners and their properties:

1. Water Infiltration: Perhaps the most immediate concern after hail damage is the risk of water infiltration. When the protective granules are dislodged, or shingles are cracked or split, it creates openings for water to enter the roofing system. Water infiltration can lead to leaks, which, if left unaddressed, can cause structural damage, mould growth, and interior property damage.

2. Decreased Roof Lifespan: Hail damage accelerates the ageing process of asphalt shingles. When granules are lost, and shingles are compromised, the shingles become more susceptible to environmental factors like UV radiation, which can further degrade the asphalt material. This can significantly shorten the lifespan of the roof, necessitating premature replacement.

3. Insurance Claims: Hail damage often leads to insurance claims by homeowners seeking to repair or replace their damaged roofs. These claims can have financial implications for insurance companies and policyholders alike, leading to premium adjustments and increased costs for homeowners.

4. Decreased Property Value: A damaged roof can decrease the overall value of a property. Potential buyers may be wary of purchasing a home with a damaged roof, and the property's curb appeal may suffer as well.

Identifying Hail Damage to Asphalt Shingles

Detecting hail damage to asphalt shingles requires a trained eye, and it's not always evident immediately after a hailstorm. Here are some steps homeowners and roofing professionals can take to identify hail damage:

1. Conduct a Visual Inspection: After a hailstorm, visually inspect your roof from the ground using binoculars or from a safe vantage point. Look for signs of impact damage, granule loss, or shingle bruising. Keep in mind that hail damage may not always be visible from the ground.

2. Inspect Gutters and Downspouts: Make sure no granules are accumulating in your gutters or downspouts. If you find an excessive amount of granules in your gutters, it is a strong indicator of hail damage to your shingles.

3. Have a Professional Inspection: For a thorough assessment, it is advisable to have a roofing professional inspect your roof for hail damage. Roofing experts have the experience and expertise to identify damage that may not be immediately apparent.

4. Document Damage: If you suspect hail damage, document it with photographs. When filing an insurance claim, this documentation can be very helpful.

Dealing with Hail Damage

If your asphalt shingle roof has sustained hail damage, there are specific steps to take:

1. Contact Your Insurance Company: Notify your insurance company as soon as you suspect hail damage. They will guide you through the claims process and may send an adjuster to assess the damage.

2. Schedule Repairs: Once you have received approval from your insurance company, schedule repairs with a reputable roofing contractor. It is crucial to address hail damage promptly to prevent further issues.

3. Consider an Upgrade: If your roof is approaching the end of its lifespan, you may want to consider upgrading to impact-resistant shingles when making repairs. These shingles are designed to withstand hail and can offer better long-term protection.

4. Regular Roof Maintenance: After repairs or replacement, make roof maintenance a priority. Regular inspections and maintenance can extend the life of your new roof and help you detect issues early.


Hail damage to asphalt shingles is a significant concern for homeowners, as it can lead to water infiltration, decreased roof lifespan, and other consequential issues. Understanding the mechanisms behind hail damage and knowing how to identify it is essential for maintaining the integrity of your roof and your property.

If you suspect hail damage to your asphalt shingle roof, do not hesitate to take action. Contact your insurance company, schedule repairs with a professional roofing contractor, and consider upgrading to impact-resistant shingles for enhanced protection against future hailstorms. With prompt and appropriate action, you can safeguard your investment and ensure the longevity of your roof.

To get more details, watch the following video tutorial.

Video Source: Yeti Roofing

Hail Damage to Asphalt Shingles: An In-Depth Examination