Handful of Hailstones

Does Hail Lead to Roof Leaks and Water Damage? You Betcha!

Posted on May 18, 2020 by baker-admin

If you wondering does hail lead to roof leaks and water damage, then you have come to the right place. Hail damage, both small and large, can lead to much worse damage if left unattended.  Small roof repairs can become major issues. 

Size Matters

Hailstones measured with tape measureWhen it comes to hail damage, it is true, size matters. Not all hail will damage your roof and cause leaks, but this depends on several factors, such as size shape and the velocity to which the hail is falling. 

Hail Size and Roof Leaks

Hailstones forms high in the sky as warm updrafts keep pushing the water droplets to higher altitudes until they freeze together and become heavy enough to fall. 

Hail will begin to fall when it is 1/4″ in diameter, which we call pea size. However, hailstones can get as large as a softball about 4.5″ or even larger. 

Pea size hail would rarely cause roof damage, but in extreme cases, it is possible. However, larger hailstones, like dime-sized and quarter-sized hail, can cause severe damage. 

Hailstone Shape Influences Hail Damage

Sharp Hail StonesAs noted earlier, hailstones are formed by multiple water droplets freezing together. Sometimes the hailstone can fall in such a way it makes them more pointed. 

Although hail is rarely pointed, when it is, even small hail can cause considerable damage.  In this authors experience, I have seen a 2-year-old roof destroyed by 1/2″ hail because the hailstones had jagged edges that pierced the shingles. 

Hail Speed and Wind-Driven Hail

As hail falls from an altitude of about 30,000 feet, its velocity is increasing until it reaches terminal velocity, it’s top speed.  

At that point, when the terminal velocity is reached, the hailstone will continue to fall at the same speed unless wind is introduced. 

The wind has a direct influence on hail velocity and impact energy. We even have a name for it, wind-driven hail.

Wind-driven hail can easily cause roof leaks and water damage even with small hailstones. This is why it is so important to have roof inspections even when the hail was “no big deal”.

How does the Roof Factor into Hail Damage and Roof Leaks?

Your roof’s material and age are equally essential to consider when discussing how hail damage can cause roof leaks and water damage.

Roofing Materials and Hail Damage

How well your roof holds up in a hail storm depends on your roof’s material. 

The 3-tab roofing shingles are much more easily damaged from the hail than the upgraded 30-year laminated shingles would be in the same hailstorm. 

The reason why is because the older style 3-tab shingles offer only a thin layer of protection. In contrast, the laminated shingles have a second layer attached on top, covering about 70% of the shingle. 

Other roofing materials, such as metal, tile, slate, and synthetic, are much more durable and are less likely to be damaged until the hailstones are larger. Of course, the wind is a significant factor as to how small hail could be to cause roof leaks.

The Age of the Roof Affects Hail Damage and Roof Leaks

Old 3-tab roof with hail damageThe age of the roof will significantly affect how much damage the hail will cause to your roof. 

For example, an asphalt shingle roof over 10-years-old will be more affected than a 5-year-old asphalt roof. This is because as roof ages, its durability breaks down, causing issues like granule loss.

All roofing materials will degrade over time; however, not all at the same rate. 

For instance, metal roofing will last 60 years or more if properly cared for while asphalt shingles may only last 12-15 years. 

Additionally, tile roofing materials will also begin to dry out and become more brittle, making them more acceptable to hail damage and roof leaks.

Ignoring Small Hail Damage

Small hail damage may not look like much at first, but if ignored, it will create roof leaks and water damage. 

Hail damage can even be challenging to find to the uneducated eye, especially if it is small. Calling a professional roofing contractor to perform an inspection on your home is the best way to ensure your home does not have damage that will lead to roof leaks and water damage.

Conclusion

Hail storms in Texas should always be taken seriously, even small hailstones. To keep your home free of water damage, it is imperative to catch the roof leaks before they get larger. 

By calling a professional roofer to inspect your home, you can save yourself some stress and money while giving yourself peace of mind that your roof is doing what it does best, protecting you and your family from the harsh weather elements.

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