Back in June, 2015, several parts of Colorado got slammed with hail, scaring a lot of people while doing a lot of damage in a very short amount of time. One part in Denver had four feet of hail fall within a 90-minute period. It required several snow plows and a front-end loader to clear the frozen mass away. The town of Berthoud had hailstones flying through the air as a tornado plowed through homes.
As this recent storm in Colorado proves, the destructive potential of hail is large. It is a constant threat for which commercial property owners need to prepare.
Hail, the Constant Threat
Hail is a weather phenomenon that can strike just about any time of year, though most activity is reported from March through July. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), on average, hail causes about $1 billion in damages and injures between 20 and 25 people in the United States every year.
Any thunderstorm has the potential to produce hail. However, the massive supercell storms, that produce some of the most destructive tornados, also produce the largest hailstones. While hail starts at about a quarter of an inch and grows from there, the supercell storms can easily produce hailstones anywhere from 1.5-inches to over 4-inches in diameter.
Protecting Your Commercial Property
The best way to protect your property against the potential damage of a hailstorm is to fortify the structure and be prepared.
- Consider your roofing materials.
If your property has an older roof, or one made of materials that are not impact resistant, you should consider replacing it with one made from a Class 3 or 4 impact resistant roofing material. The insurance industry has developed a system that rates a particular roofing material’s ability to withstand hail impacts. The rating system goes from Class 1, which is least resistant to hail, to Class 4, which has the highest resistance to hail damage.Metal roofs are particularly resistant to hail damage, with many products easily fitting into the Class 4 resistance rating. Some asphalt shingle manufacturers have come out with products that also fit into the Class 4 rating. The same goes for concrete tiles. A gravel-surfaced built-up roof can also be designed to this level of protection, as well as rubberized roofing materials.All commercial roofs should be inspected regularly for any damage, with repairs done as needed. Weakened roofs are particularly vulnerable to hailstone damage.
- Keep your windows safe.
Windows are particularly vulnerable to large hailstone penetration. At the very least, you need to install blinds, drapes, or other window coverings. Closing the window covering during a storm can prevent broken glass from flying across the room if a stone break through.If you are thinking about replacing or upgrading the windows, you should consider impact-resistant glass. While this glass cannot withstand the largest hailstones, it can withstand more than a normal, non-impact resistant window can.For property owners in areas that get a lot of hail storms, investing in wind shutters may be the answer. You can get shutters that close at the press of a button. That way, the glass in the window remains safe as does the building’s occupants.
- Trim trees.
Large hailstones can do a lot of damage to the landscaping on your property. While you may not be able to protect the hedges from damage, you can prevent damage to your buildings due to tree branches or other vegetation knocked loose by large stones. It is as simple as keeping the trees and bushes trimmed back from the building.
- Install protective shields over vulnerable equipment.
Many commercial properties have air conditioning equipment installed either on top of the structure or beside it. Hail can cause extensive damage to condenser coils and other vulnerable areas of the HVAC equipment. Inspect the equipment to see if there is already shielding in place. If not, install it. Look at any other equipment that might also be vulnerable and provide shielding as needed. The cost of shielding is minor compared to the cost of replacing the equipment.
- Look at your skylights.
If your property has skylights, is there anything protecting them from a hailstone impact? Many skylights are rated for some level of impact. To protect the property and its occupants, you can install a protective screen that will increase its impact resistance.
You don’t know when the next hail storm is coming through. All you can do is ensure your property is prepared and ready for the next storm. What steps are you going to take to protect your property from damage?
Despite the best preparation, sometimes there’s just no stopping hail damage. When this happens, skip the hassle of dealing with your insurance company and talk to the pros at Commercial Claim Pro. They will get you the best results possible and don’t get paid unless you get paid. Contact them today at (877) 877-6612.
Photo Chris Butterworth | Used under Creative Commons image attribution license 2.0