As beautiful as the spring season can be, epitomized by comfortable temperatures, bright sunshine and cool evenings, they can occasionally be ruined by storms, particularly those that bring damaging precipitation in the form of hail.

As many homeowners have likely observed at one point or another, hail is basically frozen precipitation that falls from the sky when especially patchy clouds or present. Traditionally, these storms don't last long, but when they do, they can leave significant damage to residences, vehicles or anything breakable that's left outdoors. In fact, it's not unusual for golf ball-sized hail stones to fall.

If homeowners are fortunate, little to no damage will be evidenced in the aftermath. But to make sure, they may want to perform their own home inspection.

Because hailstones are traditionally hard and round, it may seem obvious that circular-shaped dents should be what's looked for. But experts say that it can be difficult to differentiate between damage caused by hail and damage caused by natural weathering. Traditionally, damage caused by hailstones on the roof will be manifested by rupturing of the reinforcing mat that lines the top of the house. There should also be granule loss to shingles that are asphalt-based, exposing the bitumen that's underneath.

In either case, this type of damage can expedite the rate at which the roof corrodes due to natural weather hazards. It can also make the roof less able to shield the interior of the home from leaks, due to its reduced water-shedding capability.

If the ceiling starts to leak, it's a good sign that some, if not all, of the roof requires maintenance, depending on how severe the leaking is.

While these roofs are the most common, some people have wood roofs. Wood roofs tend to be easier to look at to assess hailstone damage, as the marks the pellets leave are more easily recognizable.

Experts say that so long as signs of splitting aren't apparent, the roof should not need any added maintenance following a hail storm.

While the best way to assess potential damage to the roof of a home is by looking at it, there are ways of assessing that likelihood from the ground. For example, if portions of the house are dented - such as the wood from the deck, downspouts, gutters - there's a pretty good chance that the roof is as well. A professional home inspection business will enable homeowners to know for sure, if they want to keep this assessment to the experts.

Scientists continue to analyze hailstone effects
Speaking of which, building and construction authorities are pulling out all the stops in order to reduce the risk of properties being severely damaged by hailstones. For example, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety is in the midst of developing a full-scale indoor hailstorm research center.

"Meticulously recreating hailstorms at the IBHS Research Center will enable our scientists to conduct a multi-faceted, first-of-its kind research initiative, exploring several aspects of building material and assembly performance that researchers have never been able to explore before," said Julie Rochman, CEO and president of IBHS.

Among the issues that researchers are analyzing is whether or not large hailstones cause more damage than smaller ones and how much mass is required in a typical hailstone for it to cause impairment. To assess this, researchers have recreated hail by using a mixture of tap water and seltzer water and freezing it so that it resembles actual hail as closely as possible.

During testing, they feed multi-barreled hail cannons with the manufactured hail, and the cannons release the stoned at speeds in excess of 75 MPH.