Hail damage claim reports make-up the largest portion of HVAC insurance claims, accounting for one-third of the reports. Even so, when a hail storm rolls through our area, the first thing we are likely to worry about is the possible damage that can be done to our cars, windows and roofs. However, we often overlook the damage that can affect how our HVAC systems operate.
When hail hits the condenser coil of an HVAC unit, it can bend the fins on the coil, thus restricting the unit’s airflow. When this airflow is restricted, the system must work harder to cool the same amount of space, which can ultimately shorten the life of a system or lead to compressor burnout, both of which are costly to fix. If the fins are repaired early on, the damage will be minimal, if any. However, if the repairs are not addressed promptly, fixing the unit can become an expensive undertaking.
So what’s the cost?
Though it is unlikely that the hail will cause any damage to coils themselves, sometimes the damage to the fins on the coil is bad enough to warrant a condenser coil replacement, assuming combing the fins will not suffice. While hail storms are rarely severe enough to warrant this replacement, the price of a new condenser coil alone is often over $2000. Alternatively, combing the fins of the coil is far cheaper, costing as little as $100 per hour. Most contractors agree that combing coils is the most practical and cost-effective way to improve your system’s airflow after a storm.
What can you do?
For businesses and some homeowners, insurance will cover the costs of the damages. Report the claim to your insurance company first, then hire a licensed HVAC contractor to come assess the damage next. A claim adjuster will then come review the damage stated on the claim and determine what they believe is a fair settlement.
To prevent hail damage in the future, we recommend installing hail (or “coil”) guards on the condenser coil. Most air conditioning manufacturers have their own proprietary hail guards, but there are also numerous other vendors to choose from, such as Hail, No!. While installing coil guards may seem like a burdensome expense, they are one of the most cost-effective ways to protect your HVAC system when the South Carolina summer storms roll around.