Hail damage can be costly; according to statistics from the Federal Alliance of Safe Homes, Americans spend over $1.6 billion a year on roofing issues due to hail. You may not be able to spot signs of cracks or holes until you see a leak. Knowing what to look for and when to call for help allows you to protect your home and property before your roof springs a leak.

Does your Home Have Hail Damage?

Learning about past storms can clue you in about potential issues, particularly if you purchased a pre-owned home. While you may have gotten an all clear from your home inspection, a general home appraiser and inspector is not a roofing specialist; they may have missed some of the more subtle signs of damage. If you bought your home as-is, as a short sale, or at a foreclosure auction, you have no way of knowing the true state of your roof. If your neighbors say the area has a history of hail, you should check up top for signs of cracks, chips, or leaks.

If, after experiencing a storm, you see signs of denting on your car, mailbox, shed, or other structures, you should have your shingles inspected by a professional. Chunks of ice that were large enough to dent metal and wood are also large enough to crack your shingles and destroy the structural integrity of your home. You should also call a professional if your neighbors’ homes have been affected. Hail is not selective, and if it has damaged your neighbors’ homes, it could have affected yours as well.

Perform a Visual Inspection

You won’t need to climb onto the roof (in fact, you shouldn’t, unless you are a licensed contractor), but a visual inspection from a ladder and from the ground may reveal some signs of damage. Walk around the home and pay special attention to the gutters to see if they are pocked or dented.

Climb a ladder to visually inspect your gutters. If you see chipped or broken shingles on the roof or broken bits of shingles in the gutter, you’ve seen enough to call a professional roofer. A pair of binoculars can help you see spots beyond your reach; remember, you only need to see broken, chipped, or bare shingles to know something may be amiss.

Single Shingles Matter

When you’ve spotted what seems to be a minor amount of cracking or chipping, you’ve actually seen enough to call in a professional. A single cracked shingle may not seem like a big deal, but it can actually cause leaks that will undermine the overall structure of your house.

What Happens Next

Once you’ve spotted the signs of hail damage, it’s time to hand things over to a professional. Your home insurance will require a professional roofing inspection for hail damage before approving repair or replacement work. Remember: spotting the signs of damage early can save the contents of your home.