Some of the most common concerns for commercial property owners are how to best protect their buildings from hail storms.
When you consider that up to 80% of the cost of a roof replacement can be attributed to hail damage, it makes sense as a commercial property owner to be proactive and make sure your building is prepared.
This article provides information on what size hail will damage a roof, and what to do after a hail storm; managing repairs and insurance claims.
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What size hail will damage a roof?
Hail is typically measured in diameter. The size of hail that can damage roofs ranges from a nickel to grapefruit-sized. Hail the size of golf balls will not damage most roofs, while hail larger than softballs can severely damage roofs and even collapse them.
What size hail will damage a roof depends on the type of roof, materials it is made out of, and how long the storm lasts.
Seven major categories of hail damage (by size):
¼-inch hail (known as pea-sized hail)
Pea-sized hailstones can cause more than just mild roof damage to the outside of your home.
This type of hail storm is often accompanied by lightning and heavy rain, which pose hazards for homeowners in vulnerable areas like siding or trimming bushes around windowsills—places where water may easily seep through onto building materials below (and insulation).
If you have an older roof with potential issues, then be aware that this severe weather situation will only worsen those problems, especially with sustained hail impact over time.
½-inch hail (known as marble-sized hail)
½-inch hail, also known as marble-sized hail, is generally not thought to cause damage to roofs that don’t already have substantial damage. However, roofs with minimal hail damage may still be at risk from leaks.
Marble-sized hail does not typically damage asphalt shingles but can cause significant dents on metal roofs. Keep an eye out, though, because these types of storms produce more rain from higher altitudes, which can magnify any issues caused by hailstones.
½-inch hail may make your roof look ugly, but the damage it does usually stems from water getting inside your property via holes in the roof shingles or siding. This creates a perfect environment for mold to grow, leading to further complications.
¾-inch to 1-inch hail (known as a dime to quarter-sized hail)
When you see hailstones that are larger than half an inch, it is time to call in a roof inspector.
Hail this size typically damages vinyl siding, window screens, metal fascia and paint on a deck. We also see it dislodge granules from asphalt shingles and damage gutters and downspouts.
Unfortunately, property owners often fail to identify the damages associated with hail under one inch because of its smaller size.
It’s important to address this as soon as possible because the longer you wait, it could turn into something more expensive and dangerous.
This size of hail can leave damage to roofs in the form of dents and cracks, though it may also create larger problems.
Do not ignore this; expensive as these repairs might seem at first glance- you may have an insurance claim covering the entire roof replacement cost.
1¼-inch to 1½-inch hail (known as a quarter to fifty-cent sized hail)
Hail this size can damage shingles, tiles, and siding. It also damages lawn furniture, sport utility vehicles, windshields, and landscaping.
The 1¼-inch to 1½-inch hail does the most damage to roof coverings; this size of hail could damage up to 70 percent of shingles.
Sustained hail damage can affect the roof structure and its composition. Cracked and loose shingles allow water to get in, and it becomes a bigger problem than you expected.
Hailstones this size can also cause leaks through skylights, walls, ceilings, and even dormers.
1 ¾-inch to 3-inch hail (golf ball-sized hail)
The golf ball-sized hail that we often see in our area is not unusual, but it can cause substantial damage to your commercial property.
This larger size hail can damage roofs, doors, and skylights. Therefore, it’s important to clean up the mess quickly. If you see permanent staining on building exteriors, this is a good sign of water infiltration and could result in significant structural damage if not addressed immediately (within 12-48 hours).
This may also be the point in which you should seek professional help to determine if the roof damage needs immediate emergency repairs and a public adjuster to manage your insurance claim.
3-inch – 4-inch hail
When you see hailstones 3 inches in diameter or larger for commercial roofing, the entire roof will likely need to be replaced.
Hail of this size can cause significant damage to the structural integrity of the roof system. Materials that are punctured with hail this size can most certainly leak, causing permanent damage to the drywall and interior of a building.
4 inch hail or larger
Seeing hail this size is not common in Texas, but it does happen. So, in addition to roofing repair, you should also consider that if your siding has been damaged by hail this big, then it may need replacing as well.
You should seek professional help to determine if the storm damage needs immediate emergency repairs and a public adjuster to manage your insurance claim.
The factors that influence roof hail damage (wind direction, roof type, duration)
The kind of roof you have is a big factor in knowing how to repair it. In general, flat roofs are more susceptible to hail damage than steep roofs because their greater surface area catches the hailstones rather than deflecting them.
Irregularly-pitched roofs are more likely to experience hail damage than those with a consistent pitch.
If your roof is not already in bad shape, but you notice that it is made of materials like wood shake or flat tile, prepare for the worst; damage will be extensive.
When hail hits a curved roof, it has to travel further than when it impacts a flat surface- so keep this in mind if your home happens to have a round, cone-shaped roof.
Concrete tile and slate shingles: These materials are very susceptible to hail damage, especially if the rocks that comprise them are large
Wood shake shingles: Wood is a strong material that isn’t as affected by hail as some other materials are
Asphalt shingles: These are the most common roofing material on the market today. They’ve gotten a bad rap, but they’ve proven to be very resilient against damage from various hailstorms over the years.
Wind direction is often overlooked when it comes to hail damage.
However, suppose you live in an area where the wind tends to blow in one particular direction more than another. In that case, this is relevant information for your insurance agent or public adjuster to use when looking at how these storms impact your roof. Then, they can make adjustments accordingly.
If there are successive hailstorms in the forecast, then you might want to consider having repairs done as soon as possible; this is especially true for locations where numerous storms are expected.
It’s important to try and get repairs done soonest- to protect not only your roof but to make sure to not give the insurance company a reason to deny your claim.
Wind speed is another factor that must be taken into account by insurance companies or your hail damage restoration service. The faster the wind speed, the harder the hailstones hit, and cause more damage.
If you can’t get it fixed right away, make sure to let your insurance company know about the amount of rainfall received during these storms because this will affect the course of action and timeline for your hail damaged roof.
The duration of a hail storm is also an important factor to keep track of because if it’s expected to last more than 30 minutes, then that’s longer than most insurance policies cover for hail damage repairs.
In this situation, the best thing you can do is call a public adjuster and get started with filing an insurance claim; then let them know what kind of situation is going on and that you expect to be under the insurance company’s coverage for the entire duration.
What kind of damage will hail cause to a roof?
Building materials absorb hail impacts differently. For example, hail can cause dings in aluminum siding, gutters, or asphalt shingles, whereas it can crack vinyl siding or wood shakes.
Softball-sized hailstones can be dense enough and strong enough to puncture a roof.
Additionally, the age and condition of a roof could affect the degree of hail damage. The most common effect of hail on a roof is indentation, leaving the shingles looking like they have waves in them.
When it comes to shingles and shakes, two different types of hail damage can occur: compression and puncture.
Compression Damage occurs when hail hits the surface area and causes it to sink. If enough force is put on this shingle, it can collapse or break.
Puncture occurs when hail strikes a shingle and places pressure on the surface until it breaks through the other side. In other words, its like having a tiny nail puncture your roof- that’s how deep these indentations can seem to be.
How do I inspect my property for hail damage?
Hail can damage roofs in many ways; however, the only way to truly tell how something was impacted by hail is to either see it with your own eyes or have someone who knows what they are looking at come out and inspect it.
The most common types of roof damage- especially on homes- are holes caused by impact, ice buildup, and damage to the materials used in roof construction.
Holes cause by impact: These are easy to spot because they look like someone put a hole in your roof with a cannonball! However, they can also be somewhat dangerous if you’ve got loose material hanging down from them or ice dams near these holes; it’s best to have them fixed as soon as possible.
Ice dams are more common in homes than commercial buildings because of the placement of individual roofing materials and how they’re held together.
Ice dams form when there is warm air near the base of a home, which melts snow that then finds its way to the eaves through cracks or other leaks due to improper flashing around vents or chimneys.
When this warm air goes up further into the attic and meets the cold air that’s there, it then freezes and begins to build. This can cause shingles or shakes to lift due to expansion; hailstones landing on the ice (and not melting) will push this ice up and create an ice dam.
If not dealt with as soon as possible, ice dams can cause damage to the home and frequently leak into walls and ceilings.
Damage to different types of roofing materials:
Asphalt shingles are fragile in their way because they can be crushed or dented during hail storms. They also tend to crack when hailstones come down with great force and hit them. Hailstones can also damage other materials- such as wood, aluminum, vinyl siding, gutters, and rain spouts- causing dents and holes.
Asphalt shingles: Most roofs are made out of these to some degree, but generally, two or three layers will be used to weatherproof. Their main purpose is to keep the water from getting through to the materials underneath, but they can also protect those layers from damage.
Vinyl siding: This material has a similar effect of lightening a home’s load because it helps prevent air leakage and provides a barrier between materials that might cause condensation problems. However, hail can break small holes into vinyl siding, rendering them useless.
Wood shakes: These are used less frequently than other materials because they’re more expensive and require specialized tools to install properly. Wood shakes also don’t last as long as other options; if your wood shingles are older, it’s best to re-shingle the roof before a hail storm hits.
Aluminum siding: This material is a good choice for homes because it allows the light to pass through and doesn’t cause condensation problems like vinyl or wood can. The problem with aluminum siding is that hail can dent it, causing stress on the wall beneath and leading to cracks and holes over time.
Gutters and downspouts: These are easy to inspect after a hail storm has passed if there is damage. You should be looking for dents, holes, or bends in the material that could prevent it from doing its job of directing water away from your home.
Metal roofs: This type of roofing is generally considered one of the safest options because it can be durable. Hailstones are more likely to bounce off of metal roofs than damage them, but they will still cause dents if hit hard enough.
Tile roofs: This is the most expensive option, but it’s also one of the most resilient materials used for roofing. It resists warping or breaking with great force and is good at withstanding hail.
Hail can be a nasty beast to deal with, even if it rears its ugly head only once in a great while.
Therefore, whenever there is a hail storm in your area, you must assess the size of the hailstones first and foremost. Under ¾-inch, and you are probably fine unless your roof already has substantial damage and age to it.
Anything larger than 1/2-inch, and you will likely need to discuss the next step with your insurance agent and find a roofing contractor to perform an inspection on your roof.
Being calm and knowing the steps to take when a hailstorm hits your area can make all the difference in the world when trying to get the necessary repairs done.
The key is not to panic and not jump to conclusions. Instead, make sure that you take all of the proper steps so that you can not only get your roof repaired but get it done cost-effectively.