How to spot hail damage on your home after a storm
Last updated: January 1
Depending on the severity of a storm, hail can be either a minor event or cause significant damage. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), hailstones can reach up to 120 mph before they hit the ground. And, the NWS states that hail causes about $1 billion in damage to crops and property each year. If you happen to experience a hail-producing storm, it’s important to know how to identify damage to your home so you can take steps toward remediation.
Inspecting your home for hail damage
A home is designed to withstand normal weather patterns and elements. But, the exterior of your home can be significantly damaged by a hailstorm. Here are some basic tips for inspecting your home for hail damage, according to Angie's List:
- Check your home's exterior for damage, including checking for dimples or dents in siding (a common form of hail damage).
- Check for leaks in the attic, and water damage on the ceilings.
- Inspect the ground for pieces of roof shingles. This may mean your roof has sustained damage.
- Visually inspect exterior exhaust fans, ducts and the area where your home's siding meets the roof.
Additionally, it may be a good idea to check your home's windows for any chips or cracks. After you've completed an initial assessment, you may want to have your roof professionally inspected, especially if you notice interior water damage or missing shingles.
Repairing hail damage
If your home was damaged by hail, you should take action to repair it as soon as possible. The Insurance Information Institute recommends taking photos of any damage, especially before making any temporary repairs (such as boarding up broken windows or covering holes with a tarp). Regardless of the level of damage, you should also promptly report it to your insurance company.
If the damage is extensive enough to need a contractor's help, keep these tips in mind when choosing one, says the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):
- Find a licensed contractor (if applicable): While not all states require a contractor to have a license, if yours does, they should be able to provide you with a copy of it. Additionally, all contractors should be insured. Be sure to ask for a copy of their proof of insurance.
- Ask for references: Professional contractors should be able to provide a list of current references to contact. But, if your calls to the references continually get sent straight to voicemail, you may want to think twice before hiring the contractor.
- Don't feel pressured into signing a contract: Never feel obligated to sign on the dotted line, especially if something feels off. You should also stop and read the fine print if a contractor asks you to sign an estimate, to make sure it's not a binding contract. The Federal Trade Commission notes that a contract should include information like a start and completion date, repair costs and a list of materials that will be used. Look for this type of information when you're ready to sign.
- Avoid cash or full up-front payments: If a contractor asks you for cash payments, or a full payment up front, that may be a warning sign. Instead, the NAHB says a contractor should ask for a deposit paid by check or a money order.
- Be wary of contractors who solicit door-to-door: Contractors who offer their services door-to-door after a storm (sometimes referred to as "storm chasers") may make promises they can't deliver, says the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB recommends seeking out licensed contractors on your own, getting everything in writing and paying with credit card.
Knowing when a storm that produces hail will strike may not always be predictable. The next time you spot threatening storm clouds, take cover, stay safe and remember these tips to inspect your home for hail damage after the storm passes.