Protect Your Home and Roof from Hail Damage

Hailstorms have always been a nuisance. Throughout history, people have tried to find ways to prevent roof hail damage, as well as the havoc hailstorms can wreak on crops, livestock, and people. In 1360 during the Hundred Years’ War1, a hailstorm in France, killed hundreds of invading English soldiers, causing King Edward III to give up his conquest. According to National Geographic, Europeans in the 18th century tried to prevent hail by ringing church bells and firing cannons into the clouds. In the 20th century, Russia and the United States tried a process called “cloud seeding,” where chemicals are dispersed into clouds from rockets or aircraft in an attempt to control rain and hail. This process was never proven to be effective. Today, hail and wind damage make up 38 percent2 of all homeowners insurance claims.

Hailstorms continue to be a serious threat to property and people. Keep reading to learn more about hailstorms as well as how to protect yourself and your household (we don’t recommend cannons).


The Science Behind Hailstorms

Hailstorms are typically a by product of severe thunderstorms. Hailstones begin to form when raindrops are carried upward by a storm into extremely cold areas of the atmosphere and freeze, and continue to grow when they collide with water droplets that freeze onto the hailstone’s surface. Hail falls when the updraft can no longer support the weight of the hailstone. Most hail falls at speeds between 25-40 miles per hour, but very large hailstones (diameters exceeding four inches) can fall at speeds of more than 100 mph. In the U.S., these storms occur most often in Hail Alley – a region comprised of the Great Plains states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas. States in this region experience hail impacts seven-to-nine days a year3. Hail swaths (paths of hail) can range in length from a few to 100 acres. Whether large or small in size, hail can cause serious damage. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, hailstorms caused $723 million in property damage and $87 million in crop damage in 2018 alone4


How Hail Damages Roofs

Of all the areas of your home, your roof is most at risk for hail damage. Asphalt shingles impacted by hail can loosen and shed the protective granules that coat their surface. Wood shake, clay tile, and other types of natural roofing can split or crack in the wake of large hail impacts. Some hail damage isn’t always obvious, and seemingly insignificant impacts can still cause harm to underlying roof structures. When shingles become bruised by hail, they can form micro fractures at the point of impact, allowing water to seep through. Further, the sun’s ultraviolet light can weaken exposed bruised spots and make them brittle. Extreme temperature swings are also worrisome, as they can cause the rapid expanding and contracting of roofing materials, which can weaken shingles and exacerbate hail damage.

To combat the problems caused from hail, contractors often turn to impact resistant (IR) roofing. The UL 2218 classification – developed in 1996 by the Institute of Business and Home Safety and Underwriters Laboratories – is the national standard for roof impact resistance. Roofing materials receive an IR rating of 1-4 (four being the strongest) based on a laboratory test in which a steel ball is dropped onto the materials from a certain distance.

When it comes to asphalt shingles, there are many types of IR products available, with polymer-modified (a.k.a rubberized) shingles being a great option. Due to the flexibility of the polymers that are blended with the asphalt during manufacturing, these shingles stand up better to the force of impact than non-modified shingles. They are also more resistant to damage from extreme temperature changes. If you live in an area susceptible to hail storms, IR shingles are worth investing in – you may even get a homeowners insurance discount for having these highly-durable shingles installed on your property.

Read More: Impact-Resistant Shingles May Save Your Home 


How to Prepare for and Recover from a Hail Storm

If a hail storm is headed your way, there are important steps you should take to protect your proprety. For example, move fragile and detached elements like pottery, plants and lawn furniture inside. Park your car in a covered area, close the curtains and, most importantly, stay inside.

Make sure to inspect your roof after every storm. If you are not sure how much damage there is, check your gutters for collected asphalt granules. If you see a large accumulation of granules after hail, you should have your roof inspected by a professional. Also, check to see if objects like roof vents have sustained heavy damage. The harm dealt to these items is an indicator for the level damage to your roof. If the roof is severely damaged and needs support before it can be repaired, FEMA may be able to provide a tarp to protect you from the elements. They can be reached at 1-888-766-3258.



1. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/hail-kills-english-troops

2. https://www.kin.com/blog/most-common-home-insurance-claims

3. https://www.nssl.noaa.gov/education/svrwx101/hail/

4. https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-hail

5. https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2004/10/02/operation-blue-roof

NorthGate impact-resistant shingles from CertainTeed

When hail comes calling, you'll need a roof that's engineered to stand up to the assault. NorthGate shingles from CertainTeed are made with rubberizing SBS polymers that provide an industry-best Class 4 impact resistance rating.

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