Indentifying hail damage to vinyl siding can be extremely obvious or rather subtle, largely dependent on two factors. First the hail size and second the vinyl siding itself, both of which play a part in the extent and type of damage inflicted.
The sizes of a storm’s hailstones have the most impact on how it will affect or damage the siding. When large enough, no siding, no matter how strong, will crack, chip and break. Hail the size of baseballs is not uncommon and will wreak havoc on vinyl siding.
Damage of this magnitude will be easily identifiable to even the most untrained eye. Smaller hailstones, down to nickel or quarter size, can also inflict vinyl siding hail damage but the siding itself begins to play a larger role in the effects.
Assess The Vinyl Siding
A few factors come into play when examining how the siding affects the way in which it will be damaged by hail including age, condition, and quality. Understanding these elements and applying them on a case-by-case basis can help to identify weaknesses and prone areas for hail damage.
- Age: As vinyl siding ages it begins to loose flexibility and can become brittle. The older it is, the more prone it will be to damage by even small hailstones.
- Condition: Although weathering occurs to all elevations of siding, it doesn’t necessarily mean it happens equally. South facing elevations can be baked over time by the sun and Western walls subject to receiving the brunt of heavy wind, rain, and sleet. In both cases the integrity of the siding’s condition will be degraded over time and thus more likely to be damaged.
- Quality: The quality of the vinyl siding is determined by its grade or thickness. Vinyl siding thickness can range from 0.35mm to 0.55mm. The thicker or thinner the siding the more or less hail resistant it is.
What Does Vinyl Siding Hail Damage Look Like?
After analyzing the above factors and identifying prone elevations or areas of the home, we can begin examining them for hail damage. The less apparent hail damage to vinyl siding is most often found in two forms:
- Cracking: Cracks or splits running parallel to the siding or in half-circle shapes, usually found midway between the valley and ridges of each panel where it has the most inward flex.
- Chipping: Chipping occurs at the bottom of a panel ridge where it has little to no inward flex to absorb the hail hit. Typically the chip will in the shape of a half circle and can be seen best when looking up from underneath a section of siding.
Although other forms of vinyl siding hail damage is possible (i.e. gouging), the two above are most likely to be recognized as actual hail damage and not mechanical.
Vinyl Siding Hail Damage Versus Mechanical Damage
Separating hail related damage from mechanical damage caused by rocks thrown from a lawnmower, a neighbors backyard golfing or a game of kickball can be difficult when looking in at an individual hit. In order to separate the two, one must know where to look while at the same time paying attention to the whole picture.
- Under Eaves: Any vinyl siding damage that is found in the one to two foot section directly under the eave. Although strong sideline winds can cause hail damage in unlikely locations, chances are good that either additional hits will be found in more acceptable sections or it was mechanical.
- Waist-Level and Below: Anything found below waist-level on the siding. It is widely recognized in the insurance restoration industry that damage found in this area are most likely rocks thrown from a lawnmower or other mechanical damage.
Although hail damage to vinyl siding in the above areas is taken with a grain of salt, it does not mean it should be disregarded completely. It only means that looking at the whole picture is necessary to the judge validity of each hit.
Examining The Whole Picture
Examining the whole picture simply means taking all the above factors into consideration and deducting a logical explanation for any siding damage found. For example, one siding crack a foot off the ground in and of itself is not likely hail damage. However, if the siding is 20 years old and is found on the elevation facing the hailstorm in question it becomes more likely, and if found in addition to two to three other damaged panels above the waist and below the eave that same crack becomes a probable hail hit.
Ask A Professional
Once again there are many factors that should be weighed individually and as a whole when attempting to identify vinyl siding hail damage. Good insurance adjusters and exterior inspectors should take a ‘whole picture’ approach to inspecting vinyl siding for hail damage.
If you are unsure or would like a second opinion, many siding restoration contractors should offer a free inspection
of the property. Enlisting the help of a trained siding professional
can make a vast difference in the outcome of how an insurance claim for vinyl siding hail damage is settled. Reputable siding contractors will give you an honest assessment of siding hail damage found so remember to Do Your Homework When Choosing a Contractor