Can Hail Damage a Tile Roof? - Central Homes Roofing
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Can Hail Damage a Tile Roof?

How to prevent and handle hail damage on tile roofs
Read Time: 9.5 minutes
May 20, 2021

Tile roofs are favored amongst high-end homes, luxury estates, and historical properties. You will find tile roofs adorning country clubs, office buildings, homes, and restaurants worldwide. Their longevity and toughness make them a popular choice. However, even with their exceptional strength and resistance against most natural elements, these tile roofs have a hard time sustaining frequent episodes of hail.

Even the smallest size of hail starting at one-fourth of an inch can cause significant damage to roof tiles, and bigger hailstones are bound to produce worse consequences. Hailstones can grow to the size of baseballs and hit your tile roof at speeds up to 100 MPH. So, if you live in an area that sees its fair share of annual hail storms or has just encountered a big one recently, it would be wise to have your roof inspected.

How does hail damage a tile roof?

Badly damaged roof tiles on the house

The most commonly used roof tiles are clay or terracotta tiles. They’ve been used in enhancing the aesthetics of roofs and providing them strength for a long time. However, hail storms tend to leave their effect on tile roofs no matter how strong they might be.

At a first glance, your tile roof may look completely normal after a hail storm, but if you take a closer look, you will notice numerous chips and cracks in the tile. These can be on individual tiles or larger portions, depending on the direction and force of hail impact on your roof.

You may notice that a lot of tiles have been broken, especially at the edges, because of the high-speed stones that hit them. The tiles may come loose and start looking shabby due to the loss of color.

If your area sees hail storms regularly, the spalling and deterioration will be greater. The loose roof tiles and broken pieces are a major safety hazard for your family, pets, and other animals as there is always a chance that they might fall under the force of wind or a thunderstorm. Therefore, fixing the damage as soon as possible is vital to your home’s safety and roof life after a hail storm hits.

Long-term consequences of hail damage

Hail tends to cause microfractures and chips in the tiles that cannot be spotted with the naked eye, especially when being viewed from below. The chips in the tiles remove their outer finish and allow moisture to be easily absorbed in the tile, which, during the winter months, will lead to frozen water and further damage when it snows. When this frozen water begins to thaw, it will expand and lead to more fractures and spalling in the tiles.

Long-run costs

Now, it’s not necessarily the case that hail will induce immediate damage to your tile roof. Although broken and chipped tiles may start off as superficial damage, they can easily progress to several other issues, ranging from small leaks to a total loss of structure.

Unchecked debris and dents

While the immediate effects may range from noticeable dents and cracks, the debris from the storm and chipping might accumulate in the gutters blocking them. These dents and cracks also loosen the other tiles, increasing their chance of falling.

Temperature changes

With passing days, the temperature changes and the sun will cause further deterioration, and if water hasn’t already started seeping in, it might start then. This further compromises the damaged areas. During the winter months, there’s further moisture seeping in the cracked tiles and freezing, which later leads to a problematic summer.

Unrepaired cracks

If repairs aren’t made by then, the cracked and chipped tiles undergo further wear and tear, rendering the roof less effective and causing more leaks. Water might seep into the attics, storage areas, closets and cause electrical problems and inventory losses. This seepage, if not treated immediately, will cause the surrounding wood to rot, worsen, or develop mold.

Factors that worsen damage

Prolonged hailstorms

The extent of damage caused by a hailstorm varies, depending on the severity and duration of the storm. Some storms last merely a few seconds, while others take longer and impale the tiles on your roof harder.

The high winds also pose the threat of maximizing damages. A lighter hailstorm will have a lesser impact than one where hailstones are thick, large, and strike your tile roof at high speed.

Clay, wood, and synthetic material

Besides the natural factors, the construction and material quality of your roof also determine the force your tile roof can sustain. Clay tiles are more susceptible to damage than concrete ones.

Wood and synthetic material have even lesser resistance against adverse weather conditions. And, no matter how good the material of your roof is, substandard construction will eventually render it liable to damages and faster deterioration.

The position and direction of neighboring structures like trees, buildings, fences, and natural barriers also make a difference, reducing the ability of hailstones to harm your tile roof.

What to do after a hailstorm

Walk around and explore damages

The first step of ensuring the safety of your roof and property is a thorough observation of the premise. After a hail storm, walk around and explore for any signs of damage. Use binoculars to get a superficial look at your roof and its tiles. If the storm was short and hailstones small, there may not be much to worry about. However, with longer and fiercer storms you may need to ditch the binoculars, put on your safety harness, and climb up to take a closer look at the tiles.

Note down the damages you inspect

Make note of all the broken tiles, cracks, and chips that were caused by the storm. Although bear in mind that you might encounter broken glass and loose or broken tiles that could fall and injure you.

Other sharp, heavy objects and debris may also be present, so make sure to wear proper gloves, boots, and headgear. You also need to be mindful of the downed power lines or tree branches. It is better to stay at a safe distance if you sense any hazards.

Hire a professional for safe and proper repairs

Two workers constructing the roof of a house

Start by writing a general description of the damage before getting down to specifications. You will be tempted to start cleaning up, but always make the notes first and avoid trying to fix anything that requires professional repairs or is unsafe.

Putting a tarp over the roof may prevent leaky roofs and the debris from being carried away by the wind. If there are any immediate temporary repairs, make sure you keep all the receipts. Permanent repair should, however, be put off until after the claim adjuster assesses the roof damage.

Hire an expert for inspection

In case of extensive damages, it’s always a good idea to hire an experienced and well-reputed contractor to inspect your property in detail and make a list of all the damages. Put up a safe and sturdy ladder to climb up with the inspector so that you can also get a good look.

It would be better to take pictures of all the damaged spots marked by your contractor. Several types of chalk markings are used to mark various types of inspection findings.

Should you repair or replace?

If the damage is limited to hairline cracks, dents, and chips, it’s an easier task, but if there’s a greater amount of wear and tear you may need to take urgent steps. Sometimes, small chips will break off the edges of the tiles, but both kinds of damage can be repaired without having to replace the tiles.

Chips and small cracks can be patched up by filling them with roofing mortar. It would be best if you checked the weather report and chose a day when rain is not expected so that the mortar gets enough time to set.

If the tiles are broken through to the bottom or are missing large pieces, it’s wise to just replace them. And if the damage is extensive, with several tiles missing or shattered, you should hire a certified contractor for the business.

Some homeowners with experience in maintenance can replace tiles with the help of a flat metal bar or by gently breaking the tiles into smaller pieces. Once the broken tile is removed, all you need to do is apply mortar to the space and slide in a new tile.

We recommend you keep a bunch of extra tiles for minor damages, where you don’t need to go through the hassle of hiring a contractor and making insurance claims for one or two broken tiles. Fasten the tile with a flathead and a heavy gauge copper-nail for your basic clay tile.

Are you ready for the roof inspection?

Now that we have established that hailstones can impose immense amounts of damage to your tile roofs, homeowners need to be mindful during bad weather conditions.

Inspecting your roof for damages regularly will save you a lot of trouble and money in the future. If your house has recently suffered the brunt of a hailstorm, and you are looking to have the damages evaluated and repaired, or need an estimate for your insurance claims, don’t waste any time and call a certified roof contractor as soon as possible.

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