According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, homeowners (and their insurance companies) in America shell out some $1 billion annually to have hail damage repaired. For every $100 homeowners pay in insurance premiums, a whopping 30% or $30 goes towards wind and hail damage coverage – a large chunk, considering that fire and water damage coverage averages just $16 and $11, respectively.
If you’ve ever seen a roof after a hail storm, you’ll agree that these numbers are realistic, though. Hail does two types of damage to a roofing system: functional and cosmetic. Functional damage happens when the hail reduces the roof’s ability to shed water or decreases its expected service life. Cosmetic damage, on the other hand, is anything that is not classified as functional. This may include localized granule loss or dents on vents and gutters.
Much of the damage caused by hail depends on its impact energy – its size, density, and free-fall velocity. And these things affect various roofing materials differently. For instance, three-tab shingles generally need to be hit by a hail stone that is an inch in diameter for it to sustain surface damage of about 25mm. Concrete tiles, on the other hand, generally suffer two inches of damage when hit by a two-inch hail stone.
Other factors that contribute to the extent of the hail damage include:
- Roofing material thickness. Generally, the thicker the material, the more it can withstand damage. Metal is one of the most durable roofing materials against hail.
- Roofing substrate type. Solid wood decks, as well as other smooth single-layer substrates, improve the roof covering’s ability to withstand hail impact. Old substrates, not so much.
- Part of the roof that is hit. Ridge and hip caps have less support than, say, the middle of the roof surface, so they are more likely to get severely damaged. Joints that are not supported are also weak spots.
- Materials that expand and contract with temperature changes take hail hits more seriously, which results in bigger damage.
What Does Hail Damage Look Like?
Your roof – including gutters and downspouts – will show signs that it has been hit, in the form of spatters and indentations. But other signs of damage will be evident in your home’s walls, doors and windows, and even freestanding components like air conditioners. Remember, though, that hail does not scratch the material it hits so, if you see scratches when doing your inspection, the damage is not caused by hail.
How Do You Prevent Hail Damage?
You can arm your roof against the risk of hail damage with the right materials and techniques. UL 2218 Class-4 rated shingles, for starters, are certified to have high impact resistance to hail. In addition, preventive measures such as commissioning a thorough roof inspection to look out for possible problem areas – and, more importantly, correct them – are important.
A professional contractor can help you determine your roof’s current state, and recommend measures to enhance your current system’s strength and functionality. Also, a roofer can help you take care of the necessary technicalities in adherence to your insurance carrier’s policies.
As the Operations Manager of Campopiano Roofing, Kevin Campopiano thrives on interacting with property owners and guiding them towards making the most out of their homes and businesses. When he’s not working, he’s hanging out with his family. Check out his experiences on the Campopiano Facebook page.