How Do I Know If There’s Damage?

By Mike Coday •  Updated: 03/29/21 •  9 min read

Finding Roof Damage

The question Ricardo recently asked comes up often when training new roofing salespeople to work older storm damage…

Hello Mike.

My question for you is this…

I just started with a very good roofing company. I’d like to know what I should look for on a roof before I knock the door.

In other words, how do I know that I’m not knocking on a door that doesn’t need a roof; especially in an area that hasn’t been hit by a storm recently?


First of all, great question Ricardo.

Thank you for taking the time to ask. I always like getting questions from roofing salespeople… old and new alike. You can contact me here if you have a question you would like to ask me.

Waste of Time?

Obviously, nobody wants to waste their time working a claim that is never going to get paid. It would be nice if all the storm damaged roofs that qualified for replacement would just glow a bright neon green as you walked up and down the street, but that’s never going to happen.

So, we’ll have to figure this out another way…

Disclaimer: No method is foolproof because there are just too many unknown variables due to the subjective nature of an insurance adjuster’s professional opinion.

You Never Know

If you were the final judge and jury on what roofs would get replaced, this entire thing would be too easy.

But it is not up to you. It is all up to the insurance company.

You are going to have roofs where you sincerely believe they should be replaced only to have the insurance company deny the claim.

On the other hand, you’ll also have roofs get replaced that will really surprise you. If you’ve been in this business more than a few months, you’ve had a few surprises both ways.

What this should tell you is that you need to widen your tolerance for where you will and where you will not work.

It is impossible to narrow things down to only working the roofs that you are 100% Absolutely Positively Guaranteed to get replaced.

Even after a major hail storm you can’t get those kinds of odds.

Prepare yourself to put in the extra effort when working older storm damage because you will have surprises.

Keep your pipeline full of prospects. If you only have one prospect waiting on one adjuster, you don’t have much.

“If you only have one prospect waiting on one adjuster, you don’t have much.”

Go Where The Roofers Go

If you’re a long-time reader of my articles, you know that one of my sales maxims is to “hit ’em where they ain’t!”

After a major hail storm, don’t go where everybody else is going to sell roofs. You want to naturally eliminate your competition by working along the fringe of the storm.

However, when you’re working old storm damage, you want to “Go Where The Roofers Go”. Even after most of the roofing sales people have quit on a storm, you’ll still find roofers loading up their trucks with shingles every morning and putting in the work.

Follow the roofers to their job site if you have to because if there’s one roof getting replaced in the neighborhood where they are working, there’s likely to be more roofs that would qualify.

All that noise next door is a steady reminder to your prospects that they need to take care of their roof too. After the roofers leave, so does the pressure to take care of business. Go where the roofers go and you’ll find one of your best shots at making money.

Who said it had to be your crew making all the noise in order for you to knock on the neighbor’s door?

The reason why so many roofing sales people have gone back to their old jobs when the roofers are still working is because they don’t know how to find new prospects on their own… or they are too lazy to put in the work.

Maybe lazy isn’t the right word, but if you know what works and you aren’t willing to put in the work, maybe lazy is the perfect word.

If you’re only able to work on leads handed to you, you’ll find yourself looking for a new job after the leads dry up… even though there’s still plenty of work.

Look At The Paint

One of the very first things I look at are the pipe jacks and vents.

Around here (DFW Metroplex), one of the last things a roofing crew will do after they’ve put on a new roof is to paint the PVC pipes and vents.

If the paint is new, you probably don’t want to knock on that door.

A dead giveaway that you’re looking at a relatively new roof is a small white collar around a rubber PVC boot. When the crew puts on a new rubber boot and then paints the white pipe another color, that rubber boot collar will relax and work it’s way down over time.

As the collar relaxes and settles down, it leaves an exposed white ring where the rubber boot collar meets the pipe.

Obviously, if the pipe wasn’t white before, this technique isn’t much help, but you can still look for signs of fresh paint on the roof hardware.

Needless to say, if you’re looking at lead jacks, there’s no way to see the white collar.

Dinged Roof Hardware

If you’re like I am, you can drive down a street and spot a ding in a wind turbine half a block away. It is like having Spidey Sense for Roofers.

Unfortunately, you can’t always count on the dings in the roof hardware because not every roof gets their roof hardware replaced when they get a new roof.

Maybe the insurance company didn’t pay for new turbines.

Maybe the salesman didn’t order them and the crew didn’t want to make another run to Home Depot so they just put back the old turbines and added a few dabs of silicone in the old nail holes.

Either way, you can look for hail hits on the roof hardware as an indication that they might have storm damage, but at best it may just be collateral damage.

An adjuster won’t buy a new roof just because the turbines are dinged, but they might if the shingle damage is borderline AND the roof hardware shows signs of hail damage too.

Cyano Bacteria Gloeocapsa

Simply put, a new roof will not have had time to be stained by bacteria. We’ve all seen those roofs with black stains on them. If you’re looking at a roof with black stains, dinged turbines and faded paint on the pipes, you’re probably looking at an old roof.

If there’s white circles dotting the black stains on the roof, there’s a really good chance they’ve had hail.

Bacteria spores land on the roof and start eating the limestone in the shingles. Fungus, mold and mildew will start growing on the algae and cause the stains you see on roof.

Some roofing companies will use an AR (Algae Resistant) shingle that has been chemically treated to significantly delay these stains, but AR shingles are more expensive to buy and generally aren’t used unless you’re in the South East (where algae stains are a big problem) or they buy their shingles exclusively from Lowe’s (they generally only carry the Owens Corning AR shingles).

So, if you see these stains on the roof, that’s a good sign that you’re looking at an older roof. However, due to AR shingles and other factors, not every old roof will have algae stains. Many won’t!

Go ahead and knock the door if you see other signs of damage.

Gutter Damage

I’m hesitant to even mention gutter damage for one major reason…

A significant number of people who get a new roof do not get new gutters too.

There’s many reasons for that. For the sake of time, I won’t go in to the details. However, if you’re walking down the street looking for prospects and you see hail dings in the gutters, take a look at the roof hardware and check for fresh paint before you walk up the sidewalk to the door.

If the gutters are dinged, but the paint is fresh… keep walking.

While we’re talking about gutters, I’ll mention two more signs of damage that are about as reliable. Pop marks on a stained fence and circle marks on the exposed coils of an air conditioning unit. Both are signs that hail has been in the area, but not reliable signs that the roof is old or needs to be replaced.

If you really want to know if you should invest your time working with a prospect to get a new roof…

Inspect The Roof

If you’ve seen enough anecdotal evidence (e.g. faded paint, dinged turbines, gutter damage, etc.) to convince you to knock on the door, your goal should be to inspect the roof.

No other method of identifying roofs that may qualify for replacement is as good as getting up on the roof and doing a free roof inspection. You’ll see things on the roof that you’ll never see from the sidewalk (or with a pair of binoculars).

If you don’t know what to look for once you get on the roof, ask one of the veteran sales people or the owner of your roofing company to take you out with them for a day and help you learn to identify storm damage on the roof.

If they won’t teach you how to identify storm damage, you’re wasting your time working with them. Find a new roofing company that will take the time to train you.

How do you convince the prospect to let you on the roof for the free inspection?

Well, that’s another trick.

You’ll have to read the articles in the Roofing Sales category to pick up the tips and tricks to help you talk to prospects.


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Mike Coday

Mike started selling roofs in '95 while working as a youth pastor at a small church in North Texas. A decade later he transitioned to speaking at industry conferences and training outside sales teams. Today, he works exclusively as the premier consultant to roofing company owners who are driven for growth.