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Guide To Hail Damage: The Power of Hail and How to Handle It

Florida leads the nation in experiencing thunderstorms. In the western half of the Florida peninsula, an average year comes with at least 80 days of thunder and lightning. That translates to almost one in every four days.

With our generally warm temperatures, we don’t rank high in hail. However, please don’t take that as a reason to ignore hail or its potential to damage roofs and lead to mold, leaks, and other water damage.

When Hail Damages Your Home

How Large Does Hail Have to Be to Cause Damage?

The answer turns on the size of hail and the type of roof.

Hail Size

You likely hear meteorologists and reporters use objects to describe hail size. Below are some of the coins and balls used for reference and their corresponding diameters:

  • Pea: 1/4-inch
  • Marble: 1/2-inch
  • Dime or Penny: 3/4-inch
  • Nickel: 7/8-inch
  • Quarter: 1-inch
  • Golf Ball: 1 1/2-inch
  • Baseball: 2 3/4-inch

As a rule of thumb, hail measuring at least one inch in diameter can damage roofs with three-tab organic or fiberglass shingles. Thirty-year laminate roofing may withstand generally hail up to 1 ½ inch in diameter. It takes a hail of at least two inches in diameter to damage roofs made with built-up gravel roofing or S-shaped concrete tiles.

Treat these hail diameters and roofing types as guidelines. The speed at which hail falls affects the force at which it hits your roof, siding, gutters, and downspouts.

What Are the Signs of Hail Damage?

You or a roofing professional can check the roof for these marks of hail damage:

  • Black or dark round spots
  • A random pattern of divots or marks
  • Areas of the roof with a shiny appearance or flat texture
  • Shingle asphalt accumulating in gutters or downspouts
  • Water leaks or spots on ceilings or eaves
  • Places on shingles with different colors

Hail can damage other parts of your house or exterior. For window shutters, note splits that appear black or orange, leave sharp edges, create marks, or show no particular pattern. Hail that cracks window glass or dents gutters and downspouts has enough force to damage roofs. Check the window sealants for tears or signs of intrusion.

What Should I Do If I Suspect Hail Damage?

Capture the Storm, Safely

At a safe place, preferably inside your home, video the hail storm. Pan your camera so that you capture the wind and the direction and size of the hail as it falls.

The direction of the wind, hail, and storm can point you to potential damage. Expect the damage to concentrate on the side facing the direction of the hail. Storms migrate roughly or generally west to east. Thus, point your video camera to the west or from where you see the storm clouds approaching.

Video and photos of the hail also show the shapes. Nearly three-quarters of hail takes a conical appearance. With pointed-side impacts come greater chances of roof damage.

Perform an Initial Walk-Through

When the storm passes and it’s safe to go outside, do a preliminary inspection. Concentrate on the side of the roof and exterior facing the hail and photograph or video any remaining hail, dents, nicks, and holes. Make sure your date and time stamp the footage.

Don’t just concentrate on the hail. Storms with hail likely also bring strong winds. Damage may come from wind-driven collisions of objects with siding or windows. If you have trees, falling limbs may poke holes in the roof. Wind can lift or remove shingles or gutters.

Call the Insurance Company

If you think hail or other damage is possible, contact your homeowner’s insurance company as soon as possible after the storm. Your insurer should send an adjuster or inspector to examine the roof for signs of damage.

Consider getting your own inspector even before the insurance company’s person arrives. You can share the inspector’s findings and your own footage with the adjuster.

How Can I Prevent Hail Damage?

You can’t stop the weather, but you can implement these measures to lessen the risks and impact of hail damage:

  • Install shutters around the windows. Systems that slide or roll can cover windows during hail storms
  • Close drapes and blinds to lessen intrusion by broken glass or water
  • Remove tree branches that hang over or touch the roof, and keep trees pruned
  • If you have or want skylights, look for those rated as compliant with FM Approval Standard 4431 or ASTM E1996
  • Use concrete or fiber-cement siding for your building’s exterior.

Roofs that age, deteriorate, or lack strength stand to suffer hail damage. Periodically inspect or have a roofing professional inspect the roof for holes, dents, loose shingles, lost asphalt, and other signs of aging. Keep your roof in good repair, especially after hail, wind, or falling objects.

If your roof is 15 to 30 years old, consider making a change. Contact us for your options for hail-resistant roofs or materials to minimize the chances of hail damage.