Preventing Ice Dams

With memories of endless snow shoveling, ice-covered
roads, and sub-zero temperatures still fresh in our minds, we are already facing down another
winter season. Along with the wind, snow and cold comes another
threat to our homes…ice dams. Hearing the words “ice dam” may bring
to mind images of a huge wall of ice holding back torrents of water, but in reality, that’s
exactly what an ice dam is…just on a much smaller scale. As the heat from inside your house rises and
melts the snow on your roof, the water will flow down the slope until it reaches a portion
of your roof where the temperature is freezing. The water will refreeze and a ridge of ice
will form. Water collects behind the ice dam until it
finds openings in your roof where it can flow into the attic space and eventually into the
interior of your house. The damage from an ice dam can be extensive
as the water leaks in and ruins insulation, walls, ceilings, and more. Even worse, ice dams can take days or even
weeks to form, so you may not be aware you have one until water begins to seep into your
home and cause damage. A good indicator of an ice dam is long, thick
icicles hanging from your roof. If an ice dam forms on your roof, you should
consider having a licensed and insured professional remove it. It’s very easy to damage a roof while removing
snow and ice dams. Salt or corrosive materials should not be
used to remove ice dams as they may affect the color or integrity of your roofing materials. You should also avoid using shovels and pick
axes. Warm water or steam are better choices to
break up and remove ice dams. The best way to prevent ice dams is some preparation
during the warmer months of the year. Install heat tape to melt snow and ice dams
off your roof. Make sure your attic is property ventilated
to maintain a uniform roof temperature, and seal ceilings to prevent heat from leaking
from the house into the attic. Insulate your attic floor and install water
and ice shield under your shingles at the edges of your roof, in valleys and around
vents, chimneys and skylights. Heating coils can also be installed at the
roof’s edge to keep the melting snow from re-freezing. If you do have water damage in your home as
the result of an ice dam, contact your independent insurance agent as soon as possible to determine
a date of loss and establish coverage under your homeowners policy.

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