Is It Hail Damage or Age on My Asphalt Shingles?


Many factors must be considered when identifying hail damage to a roofing system. Commonly, the type of material on the roof plays a big role in the identification process. Obviously, those who have asphalt shingles may receive more damage in comparison to other types of material.

If a home is in an area that received a recent hailstorm, an inspection should be done to look for any trace of material deterioration. Before becoming too adventurous and climbing onto the roof, it is imperative to know how to differentiate hail damage from the natural wear on asphalt roof shingles.

Important Reminders

Before discussing the basic information that will help guide in the detection procedures, the following are important roofing considerations:

  • Periodic Inspections – In order for a roof to last longer, regular visual inspections must be performed. This will allow for the early detection and recognition of any potential issues before the problems get any worse. Looking for any deviation from the normal might be very helpful in maintaining the integrity of the system.
  • Contact a Qualified Roofer – After spotting any possible issues during a periodic inspection, the next priority should be to call a roofing company. Such a business specializes in: the detection of hidden damage; knowing the difference between normal wear and hail damage; and being able to suggest if repair is needed based on the results of an inspection.
  • Treat Safety Seriously – To avoid falling hazards when looking at a roof, it is essential to always put safety first.

Probable Signs of Hail Damage

There are three common signs of damage to asphalt shingles when hit by hail. This includes granule loss, bruising, and cracking (circular form). The severity of the damage can be identified by identifying the following visible signs:

  • Granular Loss – During inspection, a thorough check for missing granules should be performed. This sign is best demonstrated when the substrates or black felt of shingles are exposed.
  • Bruising – This examination can be done by running a hand over the shingles and feeling for dimples or indentations. To reveal hidden bruising, the thumb can be pressed on the indentation to check for a soft bouncy feeling.
  • Cracking – When ice stones hit the material, circular cracking will develop. The size of the crack indicates how big the stones were that hit the roof and will suggest the extent of the damage.

Hail Damage vs. Aging

In order to uncover the effect of falling hail, it is crucial to begin by thoroughly searching the eaves for granulation. Accumulation of mineral granules indicates that there is a serious granular loss to the material. Severe loss of mineral granules will eventually expose the substrate, which can turn out to be a point of penetration and potential entry of water into the underlying area. Smaller areas of granular loss may be observed from normal aging. Worn out shingles often occur over a long period of time due to the exposure of material to various weather changes.

Blistering is more difficult to differentiate between the effects of the impact of falling ice stones and aging; however, there is a strong claim that ice stones cannot cause blistering but rather produce dents. This has proven to be true due to the strong blow delivered when hail hits the structure and dislodges the granular layer, exposing the felt material. In the final analysis, destruction caused by ice stones causes a severe granular loss while natural aging has a more gradual loss that usually develops over many years.

When hail hits asphalt shingles, it can cause immediate damage. Sometimes, it is hard to distinguish the difference between hail damage and an old roofing system; knowing the probable signs of each event will help to put a clear line of distinction between the two. The most apparent sign that separates the two is the rate of granular loss. Hail stones produce rapid granular loss while old shingles undergo a gradual loss. So now, when looking at a roof, it is possible to see if it is hail or if it is old!


Source by C. Michael Hunter