Protect Your Home and Roof from Hail Damage
HOW HAIL DAMAGES A ROOF
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.
PROTECTING YOUR HOME 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’ War2, 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 percent3 of all homeowner insurance claims.
Destructive hailstorms are increasing in the United States, with hail now costing the U.S. as much as $22 billion a year in damage to homes, cars, crops and people4. Additionally, hailstorms account for 70 percent of insured losses from severe storms5. A dime-sized hailstone falls at 20 miles per hour, while a baseball-sized one of about three inches can reach between 80 and 110 mph. At these velocities, hail can do significant damage to homes that lack impact-resistant roofing materials.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND HAILSTORMS
Hailstorms are typically a byproduct 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 year6.
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 alone7.