The myths and realities of hail damage to commercial roofs

As we enter prime time severe weather season across various parts of the U.S., how well do you understand the potential for commercial roofing damage caused by hail?

“Compared to the last three years we’re expecting late spring to early summer to be hotter, and with hotter, more humid weather comes an increased chance of thunderstorms and severe weather,” said meteorologist Eric Wilhelm. “When you see an increase in temperature and humidity in the atmosphere you just increase your chances of seeing weather that can get rough; and that includes hail.”

Wilhelm said hail can be very damaging under certain circumstances, particularly when combined with high winds.

“That’s the worst combo, and there was a dramatic example of that recently in Texas,” he said. “In that instance you even saw windows on the sides of buildings damaged from golf ball and softball sized hail being blown sideways by the wind. Not only were there roof issues, but we also saw siding and other general structural damage.”

Even without the wind, hail can be damaging once you get to a certain size, he said. As a ballpark estimate, it can do the worst damage is when it gets to be about golf ball size or larger.

Hail events are trackable and recorded by the National Weather Service, making proof of damaging hail documented and available by a third-party source. If you suspect or detect hail damage on your commercial roof there are a few telltale signs:

  • Dinged, dented or bent metal, either on top of the roof or on gutters, HVAC units, etc.
  • Broken windows or skylights
  • Displaced gravel
  • Spiderwebbing

Left untreated, hail can create holes, impacts, cracks, fissures and punctures to your roof membrane, ultimately leading to water intrusion. Hail is usually not covered under warranties. And confirming damage from hail requires an inspection with infrared scanning.

Be wary of roofing contractors who “guarantee” they can fix the hail-damaged roof. Many roofers are adept at reducing and minimizing leaks caused by hail damage, but since holes can be running from many different origins, making a guarantee claim of eliminating damage should be met with skepticism.

Attempts at repairing hail-damaged roofs often fall short. And paying the cost of a full roof replacement is usually excessive and not required. Instead, consider a roof restoration. A proper restoration rebuilds your roof at a fraction of a replacement, seals it to water-tight condition and typically comes with a warranty.