When the news cycle starts issuing those ominous hail reports, homeowners in places like Dawson and Douglas counties should take a few precautions before the storm hits. While only around 10 percent of all thunderstorms spiral into conditions severe enough to generate significant hail stones, storms with hail of any size can damage your home's roof, siding and windows. Here are a few details for preparing for the storm, and information on how to assess potential problems afterward.
Prevention: If your windows are protected by overhangs, they're less likely to suffer cracks. If not, it may be a good idea to remove exterior window screens to prevent tearing. If the forecast is extremely bad, you might consider boarding up windows in advance of the storm. This is a particularly good idea for windows that receive the brunt of high winds, or that are located near tree branches.
Assessment: After the storm, check the window panes for obvious breaks and look closely for streaking where hail has grazed the pane. Even if windows are unscathed, check the window frames for pock marks. Review your homeowners insurance policy and contact the company to assess even minor damage that may be covered.
Prevention: In the short term, there's little you can do to prevent damage to your existing siding. Keeping your home's siding well-maintained is the best way to prevent damage, as is ensuring that your insurance policy covers storm damage.
Assessment: Check for indentations in the siding that can weaken the material and cause it to degrade faster. Hail that actually penetrates through the siding will let moisture infiltrate behind it. In addition to checking the expanse of siding covering the walls, be sure to check for indentations or cracks on trim and downspouts.
Prevention: Preventing roof damage is largely about picking the right kind of shingle for your house in the first place. Newer, tougher varieties of shingle have stronger adhesives that can withstand the kind of rough weather that's swept through the Atlanta area in recent years.
Assessment: Climbing on the roof is best left to professionals, both for safety reasons and because a professional can better assess damage. Your insurance company may cover cosmetic damage to roofing that reduces your home's overall value, such as a minor loss of granules on shingles. Shingles that lose granules will not perform, hindering drainage and letting moisture infiltrate the home.
After the storm passes and hail reports die down, call your insurance agent and a construction or roofing specialist to inspect your home. Hail damages can lead to water problems, a shorter life span for the home's windows, roof and siding, and a reduced ability to properly drain rain water.