The weather is one of the most unpredictable things about nature, and Calgary is a glaring proof of this. In fact, Calgary locals often tell visitors: ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait 20 minutes for it to change!’ Unfortunately, hailstorms are a regular feature of these weather changes, especially between the months of June and September. Calgary is situated in “Hailstorm Alley,” a large section of Alberta notorious for hail-producing thunderstorms, which are often destructive to property. This area stretches from High River in southern Alberta, north to Calgary, through Red Deer to Lacombe and westward to Rocky Mountain House.
How Hailstorms Occur
Hail is formed when thunderstorm updrafts carry water droplets above the freezing level, causing them to turn into pellets of ice. Hailstones grow as these collide with additional water droplets and when they get too heavy for the updraft, they fall to the earth.
As many Albertans know, it doesn’t take much for hail to cause damage. Hailstones have the ability to weaken your roof, siding, gutters, shingles, screens, downspouts, casings, windows, window seals, or air conditioner. The extent of such damage largely depends on the speed of the striking hailstone, which is determined by its size and shape. This is why hailstones as small as a loonie (roughly an inch wide) can wreak havoc, costing you thousands of dollars in damage in mere minutes.
Another scary thing about hailstorms is that they can happen on the sunniest of days. They seem to appear out of nowhere and without any warning, lasting anywhere from five to ten minutes.
Important Tips for Hailstorms
Did you know that roughly two-thirds of all hailstorms in Canada happen in Alberta? If you live in this region, there are important things that you should put in place before, during, and after experiencing one.
Before Our Next Hail Storm
It is relatively easy to inspect the exterior of your home, but the roof is often overlooked until it starts giving trouble. This is why it is important to routinely assess the condition of your roof. During this inspection, you may notice wear or tear, and need to have those weak spots fixed before a storm causes further damage. These maintenance checks can be done every one to three-months. Checking on your roof regularly will help you know when to call in a professional to catch any minor repairs, or to let you know it’s time for a new roof.
Trim Off Tree Branches
High winds during a hailstorm can knock branches off trees and throw them against your roof. If you have trees around your home, you should regularly cut off those weak branches that can easily come off during a storm. Any branches that lie on, over, or close to the roof need to go as well. It’s also important to keep your gutters and drain pipes clear of debris, since that can lead to a leaky roof or water damage to the interior or exterior of your home.
During a Hailstorm
Hailstones produced during a storm can hit the ground as fast at 130 km/hr. This is enough force to seriously injure a person or cause fatal accidents if the hailstone is large enough. If you are caught in a hailstorm, find shelter immediately. If you are not able to find shelter then, at least, find something that can be used as a shield to protect yourself. Another important tip is if your driving and visibility is low, pull over when it is safe to do so. If possible try and find a place with a roof, like a parking garage or covered gas station.
After a Hailstorm
Inspect Your Roof
After the storm has passed and it is safe to do so, take a look around your property. If you notice signs of damage like dings in your aluminum siding, gutter, vinyl siding, or dents in the downspouts and casings, then it may not be necessary to go on your roof. Even though the asphalt shingles are sturdier, the presence of such damage on the exterior is a good indication that the storm was very strong and that roof damage should be expected.
You should note that slippery conditions from the storm may also make it dangerous and unsafe to climb onto your roof and/or to have a ladder propped up against the house. If you do decide to inspect your roof for damage, be sure to have someone at the base of the ladder, holding it in place. Remember: safety first!
Recognizing Hailstorm Damage to Your Home
Types of Roof Damage From Hailstorms
Hailstones can cause some serious damage to your roof, leaving it vulnerable to Mother Nature. Therefore, if left untreated, hail damage can cost you thousands in repairs to your roof and your home. There are three different types of roof damage from hail.
The first one is missing surface granules. The force with which hailstones hit shingles is capable of dislodging asphalt granules. This compromises the integrity of the shingles in those spots and exposes the roof to potential leaks.
The second kind of damage that hail produces is dimpling. These dimples are sometimes difficult to see and will require you to run your hand across the shingles. While doing this, you should also apply some pressure to see if the shingles have any give to them. If the dimples dip down when you press on them, then the shingles are deteriorating and are in need of replacement.
The last kind of damage is called cracking. A large enough hailstone flying with extreme force is able to make circular cracks in the shingles. Cracks should be taken seriously and the shingles replaced. If the cracks are not isolated to one area, then the whole roof may need to be replaced.
Hail has the ability to cause damage to shingles and window seals alike, but it is often difficult to tell.
Sometimes, you may be able to visibly see or feel the areas damaged by the falling hailstones. Other times, however, the damage may not be that obvious and it is best for a professional to properly assess the exterior of your home. They will be able to determine whether the damage was functional or simply cosmetic. Depending on their assessment, the professional will recommend a simple repair job, or replacing the roof or windows entirely. You may also simply be asked to keep an eye on the area.
Insurance Against Hailstorms
It may come to you as a surprise, but having home insurance does not mean that your roof, siding, or windows are insured against hail damage. Since 2010, summer storm-related damages in Alberta have totalled over $5 billion in insured costs.
It is therefore little wonder that many insurance companies have stopped offering hail protection, or continue to offer it at a high premium. This is why we recommend that you look at your plan and check with your provider to see if you are covered or not. This way, you would not be caught off guard in the event of such an incident.
These days, some insurance providers are offering discounts to those customers who redo their roof with hail-resistant shingles. Think of it as getting a discount when you purchase snow tires for your car. These shingles are made from recycled plastic materials, which allows for the hailstones to bounce off the roof and they are virtually impenetrable. While they are quite expensive, they are an excellent investment in property protection.
Working with EnerClear Exteriors
Hailstorms will happen, but you have options than can help you to be proactive about protecting your house. At EnerClear Exteriors, our main mission is to transform homes in our communities. We have the skills, experience, and the right people to assist you with your exterior renovations and repairs. Let us assess your home exteriors and give you personalized professional recommendations to best protect your home from hailstorm damage. We’re just a call or click away!