Is Hail Impact Damage to Shingles Immediately Noticeable? (Encore – Updated)

Posted by in Shingles | August 07, 2017

It is claimed by some that damage from hail impact may cause a gradual loss of granules that can result in premature aging of the shingles over time. They further say that without visible damage, there is no real way to be sure how much damage shingles have encountered and that damage may not be apparent until months or years later.  We disagree.

Hail damage is immediately detectable by one who is properly trained and experienced in the identification of hail damage.  Industry studies and publications independent of those with a vested financial interest, such as shingle manufactures and individual roofers, have defined functional hail damage to asphalt shingle roofs as a diminution of the water shedding ability of the shingle or the reduction in the long-term service life of the shingle.  This definition is based upon many years of research and testing and has been published in peer-reviewed literature.

Functional hail damage to asphalt shingle roofs is characterized by a concentrated loss of granules, usually somewhat circular in shape and accompanied by a fracture in the shingle mat or a bruise in the shingle mat.  A bruise feels soft when it is pressed on due to the internal fracturing of the mat.  The feel of a bruise is similar to the feel of a bruise through the skin of an apple.  Industry studies have shown that softness at a spot in the mat is indicative of a fracture on the bottom side of the shingle or within the mat.

During our years of evaluating shingle damage, we have observed and considered in our evaluations and rendered professional opinions regarding a third type of hail damage that would not be considered functional, but probably aesthetic.  This less severe hail damage to shingles is where there is a somewhat circular concentration of granule loss that exposes a conspicuous area of the asphalt surface.  There is no fracture and there is no bruise, but merely exposed asphalt.  This is not considered functional hail damage by industry definition, but is damage none the less. Even some courts have ruled this as damages.

Figure 1 Granule loss at fracture in shingle mat.

However, we emphasize here that the mere loss of granules, is not considered damage, especially the gradual loss of granules over time.  Granule loss may be evidenced by granules in the gutter or a widespread and relatively uniform loss of granules on the shingles.  These conditions are better explained by other causes that are considered normal wear and tear or premature aging.  Granules are commonly dislodged and are expected to be dislodged when the shingles are exposed to heavy rainfall, wind, small hail impacts, and normal foot traffic.  Those who propose that granule loss from hail impact can appear days, weeks, months, and even years after the hail storm and result in premature aging have confused normal wear and tear for hail damage.

Shingle manufacturers sometimes promote this proposition saying that there is no way to be sure of the long term effects of hail impacts.  Acceptance of this proposition by the shingle manufacturers allows them to consider nearly all shingle material warrantees to be void after a roof has been exposed to impacts by any sized hail.  This would be nearly every roof.  We have seen some manufacturer’s go above and beyond their responsibility with regard to warrantee coverage of product defects, however, it is our opinion that this proposition sometimes allows a convenient way of avoiding responsibility for product defects or poor quality shingles.