When you think about hailstorms, you may remember photos of hailstones the size of golf balls and wonder how much damage they can do. The largest hailstone ever recorded was found after a hailstorm in South Dakota in 2010 and measured at about 18 inches in diameter. That hailstone could have caused a lot of damage or perhaps could have killed someone. While it's true that large hailstones can definitely do a lot of damage, so can small ones.
The biggest problem with the small hailstones is that the damage isn't obvious at first, which may be the reason why it seems your entire roof is suddenly leaking. Here's why and what you can do about it.
The Damage Small Hailstones Can Do
When hailstones hit a roof, they may scrape off some granules, which leaves the asphalt of the shingles exposed. The purpose of the granules is to protect the asphalt. So without the protection from the granules, the asphalt can deteriorate faster. However, the more troubling concern is whether or not the impact of the hailstones caused bull's-eye cracks in the underlayment and roofing deck beneath the asphalt shingles. Cracks in these building materials could easily allow water to leak through in small amounts at first.
The Damage Water Can Do
When water leaks through the cracks made by the hailstones, the damage may not be apparent until much later. At first, the materials will absorb the water, but at some point, there isn't any more space for the water to stay in the materials, and that's when the water begins to migrate. The water then will follow the path of least resistance, which may be drips onto your attic floor that eventually make it through to the ceiling below. By then, not only are you faced with a damaged roof but also with water damage and, quite possibly, mold growth.
The situation can be worse after temperatures drop and the water that has infiltrated the roofing materials freezes, which can expand the cracks and make it easier for more water to infiltrate the roofing. As the ice thaws and refreezes, possibly on a daily basis, the cracks become larger and the water damage becomes more severe.
The Repairs That Need to Be Made
Depending on the amount of damage to your roof at this point, you may be looking at a complete rebuild of your roofing, especially if the decking needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, by the time you discovered various water spots in the ceilings of your top floor, the damage to the roofing was extensive enough to necessitate a completely new roof. Therefore, be sure to submit a claim to your homeowner's insurance.
If you live in an area that is susceptible to hailstorms, you may want to consider having modified asphalt shingles installed instead of regular shingles. These shingles are made to withstand extreme weather conditions, such as hailstones. These specially made shingles have a rubber-like quality that prevents the damage from hailstones when they impact the shingles. Hail-resistant shingles are affordable, and your insurance company may give you a discount for installing this type of roofing shingles.
When looking for a contractor, find one that works on exterior storm damage repairs. Keep in mind that it is quite possible for your siding to have also been damaged from the same hailstorm. Exterior storm damage repair services often repair siding in addition to roofing and other exterior building materials. And since they do specialize in storm damage repair, they may also do water damage cleanup or at least be able to refer you to a contractor who does water damage restoration.