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How to Prepare for Hail in Maryland

Can your home withstand a severe hailstorm? Find out which Maryland cities have the highest hail risk, and learn what you can do to protect your home from hail damage.

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Hailstorms usually arrive quickly and may cause significant damage. The potential impact of hail can’t be underestimated. In a typical storm, hail is pounding down on your house at 25 to 40 mph. The strongest hailstorms can be even worse, with hail hitting your house at up to 100 mph. 

Forward-thinking homeowners can take action now to protect their homes from hail damage. Find out if you’re living in a Maryland county with high hail risk, and learn how preparing for hail can make your home more resilient to many types of severe weather. 

Which Maryland County Gets the Most Hail?

A hailstorm can happen anywhere. In one of the most severe hailstorms in recent years, tennis ball-sized hail was spotted in a 2018 hailstorm in Frederick, MD. 

Despite the chance of hail happening anywhere, some parts of the state are especially likely to be pummeled by hail. By looking at storm data for years 2016 through 2020 in NOAA’s Storm Event Database, we can learn exactly which places in Maryland are most prone to hailstorms. 

The Washington, D.C., suburb of Montgomery County is the top location in Maryland for hailstorms. Second on the list is Baltimore, with about 40 percent fewer hailstorms over the same time period. 

Hailstorm Rank Maryland County Number of Hailstorms in Five Years
1Montgomery42
2Baltimore25
3Charles15
4Frederick15
5Washington15
6Anne Arundel15
7St. Mary’s11
8Prince George’s8
9Calvert8
10Queen Anne’s8

An unexpected hailstorm can happen anywhere. No matter where you live, preparing for hail can help your home have the impact resistance and water management to better withstand heavy rain, wind, and even hurricanes. Follow these 10 tips to protect your home from hail damage.  

1. Maintain Trees to Avoid Falling Limbs

During a hailstorm, the force of the ice and wind can cause dead branches to fall or weak trees to topple. Proactive tree maintenance can help you avoid limbs crashing into your roof, windows, or siding. Trim back any branches or trees that could threaten your home. Also, make sure plants are not too close to your home so you can avoid tree roots damaging your foundation

2. Check Homeowner’s Insurance

Many homeowner’s insurance policies will have hail coverage. However, there could be key details that affect how you prepare your home for storms. For example, there could be exclusions for cosmetic damage caused by hail. You may also have a separate deductible rate that only applies to wind and hail claims. 

3. Maintain and Upgrade Roof

Hail is most likely to damage your roof, leaving dents from the impact, shingles torn off from the wind, and aggregate surfaces washed away. Roof maintenance can help strengthen your home against damage, and homeowners should secure any loose shingles, re-caulk flashings, and keep the roof free from moss and mildew. When it’s time to upgrade, choosing Class 3 or Class 4 shingles can make your roof more impact resistant and may even give you a discount on your homeowner’s insurance policy. 

4. Prepare Windows for Impact from Ice and Debris

Windows, skylights, and glass doors are vulnerable areas of your home during a hailstorm, and there are a few different ways to improve their impact resistance. One option is to install exterior shutters that can protect windows from impact, and another method is to upgrade to impact-resistant windows. You can also add drapes or shades to the interior of your home to protect occupants from flying shards of glass if windows do break during a storm. 

5. Check Chimney for Tilting or Cracking

A weak or unstable chimney could topple or shear because of the directional winds during a hailstorm. To identify if your chimney has problems, look for signs of chimney brick cracks or evidence that the chimney is starting to tilt or separate from the house. This could indicate structural weaknesses or shifting soil below the chimney. Repairing your chimney can help you avoid thousands of pounds of brick crashing down because of a hailstorm. 

6. Maintain Gutters and Improve Drainage

During one inch of rain, gutters on an average-sized home will control the flow of nearly 1,000 gallons of water. These water calculations for gutters highlight the importance of effectively directing rainfall away from your home so water doesn’t end up in your basement or crawl space or damaging your foundation. 

In preparation for hailstorms, keep your gutters clean and well maintained. Homeowners can also upgrade to sturdier gutter materials to avoid the hail damage that’s common on lightweight aluminum. Adding a sump pump to your home is an important way to protect your property from flood damage and automatically start removing water as soon as it’s detected. 

7. Add Carport, Garage, or Car Covering

After hail damage, the average car insurance claim is $2,500, and adding protective car covering can help you avoid a dented exterior or shattered windshield. A garage is the safest place for a car during a hailstorm, and homeowners can also protect their vehicles with carports or car coverings. 

8. Add Hail Guards to HVAC

Outdoor air conditioning units can also get damaged by hail. The most vulnerable component is the condensing coils where the fragile grate can be dented or damaged. If your HVAC unit doesn’t already have a hail guard installed, look at the add-on coverings that are offered by the manufacturer. 

9. Maintain and Protect Roof Vents

Rooftop exhaust vents for your water heater or clothes dryer are exposed to the weather, and if these vents are not working properly, fumes or carbon monoxide could build up in your home. Regular maintenance can help vents withstand storm damage, so make sure water seals are intact and covers are securely in place. You may also be able to add additional protection with a hail guard.

10. Upgrade to Hail-resistant Siding

After a hailstorm, one or two sides of a home exposed to the wind can be dotted with holes, dents, and cracks. Vinyl or aluminum siding will likely see the most damage, and when it’s time to replace your siding, choosing impact-resistant materials can give you more protection. Look for engineered wood, fiber cement, or steel, and compare manufacturer impact reports to see how the options you’re considering will stand up to hail damage. 

Whether you’re concerned about Maryland’s hailstorms, floods, hurricanes, or other types of severe weather, a free inspection from JES can help you find the structural systems and waterproofing solutions that help protect your home.