I cannot tell you how many times over the past few months I have heard that question. With recent strong thunderstorms and associated hail, the Atlanta metro area has certainly received more than its fair share of damage, as evidenced by all of the vehicles parading around the streets advertising first one roofer then another. Many of such roofing contractors are referred to in the industry as "storm chasers".
Hail storms are closely followed by their swarm of vehicles, eagerly anticipating a quick surge of easy money. After the initial rush of activity, they disappear as quickly as they came … on to the next affected area. They leave behind them a plethora of customers who have no one to turn to when warranty issues arise. The responsibility, and the financial cost, are then up to the homeowners themselves. I have see this happen time and again to families in our coverage area. Alas, I digress. Back to our original question.
Hail damage is typically dependent upon the size of the hail. According to the Nebraska Department of Insurance website (www.doi.ne.gov/brochure/b_hail.htm), generally speaking, "hail must be 1 ¼-inches in diameter (half-dollar size) before it causes damage to heavy composite shingles or wood shake shingles. Lightweight composite shingles may show damage after being struck by 1-inch diameter (quarter-size) hail. Only deteriorated composite shingles will show hail damage due to hail less than 1-inch in diameter, and the hail generally must be more than ¾-inch in diameter (dime size). " So who goes out and measures the hail during a storm? We have seen hail in our area larger than a golf ball, and there have been many roofs replaced. How about your roof?
The first thing to do if you think your roof may be damaged is to look at your car parked outside, your mailbox, window screens, vinyl siding, air conditioner, etc. These items are much more prone to hail damage than your roof. If you have damage to these items, it may be prudent to call your insurance company or agent and advise them of the damaged items and your roof concerns. Get your policy out and review your coverage, your exclusions and what may be required of you as the policyholder. In most cases, you will be required to pay your deductible to your contractor of choice at the beginning of the project. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Your insurance company will assign an adjuster to visit your home and inspect the damages. Some insurance companies utilize "preferred contractors", contractors who have been researched and pre-approved by your insurance company. Champion Construction has such a relationship with most of the major insurance companies that service this area. Such contractors are sometimes assigned when the adjusters are overloaded. The inspection of your roof will include checking metal structures, such as roof vents, ridge vent, exhaust turbines, etc. These soft metal structures will reveal the severity of the hail downpour. A subsequent inspection of the actual shingles will then take place. There are numerous types of damage (unrelated to hail) that may be found, including, but not limited to, shingle hardening, cupping, cracking, blisters, etc. A description of such damages can be found at the website listed earlier.
I spoke to a local roofing contractor in our area who we have used extensively over the past few years. Together, we have categorized hail damage into three main categories:
1. Hail Splatter – this is described as visible evidence of hail impacting the roof which may leave a slight discoloration but results in no damage to the shingles. No action would be required for this type of hail event.
2. Slight Pitting – this is described as hail impacts with enough force to leave small indentions in the shingles and which result in minor granular loss. Typically, no action would be required for this type of hail event. However, if the damage affects a significant portion of the roof, replacement would be at the discretion of the insurance adjuster.
3. Shingle Damage – this is described as a hail impact with enough force to result in "shingle bruising" significant enough that the granules are dislodged, exposing the asphalt & fiberglass underneath. The inner body of the shingle is damaged / cracked and will require shingle replacement.
Generally, with either Type 2 or Type 3 damage, the insurance company will require that a test square be drawn in the areas directly damaged. The test square measures 10 feet by 10 feet. Within the test square, shingle impacts are circled with chalk. Afterward, pictures are taken to demonstrate the scope of the damage. Significant widespread damage may result in total roof replacement. Otherwise, the insurance company may approve roof repairs to the damaged areas.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of contacting a local, established roofer or general contractor to review your loss and negotiate the scope of repairs with your insurance company. Such a company would likely be available if warranty issues arise at a later date. Champion Construction has been called upon many times to repair shoddy workmanship when the "storm chasing" repair contractor has moved on to the next storm damaged area. In the long run, the lowest price can cost you an arm and a leg.
Check with your insurance adjuster or local agent to see if they can recommend a reputable local contractor. If they do good work you can expect that they will be busy, and you may have to wait a short while before they can get to your repair work, especially when there is a widespread storm event. However, you will be able to rest easy knowing that they are a short phone call away if any issues arise.