Mastering Roof Inspections: Hail Damage, Part 11

by Kenton Shepard and Nick Gromicko, CMI®



The purpose of the series “Mastering Roof Inspections” is to teach home inspectors, as well as insurance and roofing professionals, how to recognize proper and improper conditions while inspecting steep-slope, residential roofs. This series covers roof framing, roofing materials, the attic, and the conditions that affect the roofing materials and components, including wind and hail.

Identifying Elevation Damage



Wood fencing may be dented or discolored by hail. This photo shows a fence which has been hit by small, hard hail.

Minor dents will often disappear with time as wood fibers, compressed by the hail's impact, swell as they absorb moisture from precipitation and humidity.

Discoloration from the removal of oxidation by the impact will typically blend in with the rest of the fence after a few months as the newly-exposed wood re-oxidizes.

Metal fences may also have oxidation removed, which will soon blend in with the rest of the fence.

Fences which have been painted may sustain damage to the paint, which will require re-painting the fence.

Vinyl fencing may be cracked or punctured, depending on its profile and the impact-energy of the hail which has hit it.

Painted Surfaces


Painted surfaces can be chipped and cracked by hail. Horizontal surfaces are more likely to show damage, and so are surfaces with older paint, low-quality paint, and surfaces that were not primed before they were painted.

Air-Conditioning Units

The heat-radiating fins of air-conditioning units are easily damaged by hail.  The metal jacket of the unit may show damage from larger hail. Indentations on the thin aluminum fins can reflect fairly accurately the diameter of the hailstones which caused them.

If you see spatter marks on aluminum AC fins, they usually indicate that the hail was soft.

Hail indentations of the fins may be a covered loss, requiring fin combing or even replacement, so this should be included in the report.

Electrical Panels

A metal electrical panel is one more ground-level item which may show indentations, but, more typically, will show spatter marks from hail. Spatter marks on panels can help you determine the direction from which the hail came.

Window Well Covers

Window well covers may also take a beating and can sometimes give you a good idea of hail diameter, density, direction and quantity.

Directional Clues

If you see hail damage on different sides of the home, indicating that hail came from different directions, you may be seeing damage from two different hailstorms.  You should examine the evidence closely for clues to differences in age of damage, similar color variations in similar materials due to differing amounts of UV exposure, and oxidation.


Learn how to master a roof inspection from beginning to end by reading the entire InterNACHI series: Mastering Roof Inspections.

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Mastering Roof Inspections
Roofing Underlayment Types
Inspecting Underlayment on Roofs
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Roofing (consumer-targeted)
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