Ice Dams, protecting your home, and Insurance:
‘Tis the season…the cold weather in the northeast is here – with reports of extreme cold across other areas in the nation. With this cold weather comes insurance claims plus loss prevention and risk transfer opportunities. Each year, claims for ice dams are submitted and there is an opportunity for consumers to utilize preventive measures to protect their home (in addition to insurance).
Here are a few thoughts around Ice Dams, protecting your home, and Insurance:
Ice dams form when melting ice and snow refreeze above the eaves of your roof and subsequent melting backs up under the shingles. This causes interior leaks and water damage to interior walls and ceilings.
Do You Have an Ice Dam?
Most ice dams develop on the edge of your roof, but they may also form in other locations, depending on the slope, orientation and style of your roof. Be sure to monitor the weather and your roof for signs of ice dam formations.
- Look closely at the icicles around the exterior of your house. If the icicles are confined to the gutters and there is no water trapped behind them, then an ice dam has likely not formed. Nonetheless, icicles can be a precursor to ice dams. Depending on their location and size, icicles may also pose a danger if they fall off. Whenever possible, and if safe to do so, remove icicles from the exterior of your home, making sure not to stand directly beneath them. If you cannot safely reach the icicles from the ground, consider hiring a contractor to assist in their removal.
- Check for water stains or moisture in your attic or along the ceiling of exterior walls of your house. Water stains or moisture may be an indication that an ice dam has formed and water has penetrated the roof membrane.
Preventing Ice Dams/ Loss prevention
Proper ventilation, drainage and insulation are the only ways to prevent ice dams and can be achieved in the following ways:
- Make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and debris.
- Check and seal places where warm air could leak from your house to the attic: vent pipes, exhaust fans, chimneys, attic hatches and light fixtures are all possibilities.
- Inspect, or have your roof and attic inspected for proper ventilation and insulation.
- Look for signs of inadequate ventilation: rust spots, rusty nails or a mildew smell are all signals that moisture has formed on the inside of your roof.
- If you have soffit vents in your eaves, make sure they are not blocked and insulation surrounding them is secured so that air can flow easily.
- Keep snow from accumulating on the lower three to six feet of your roof.
- Install snow and ice slides to prevent ice and snow from “bonding” to the lower roof.
- Install a rubberized ice and water shield beneath the roof shingles for the first three to six feet from the eaves up.
- Install heating cable along the eaves to melt ice.
How to Remove an Ice Dam
Removing an ice dam from your roof immediately after spotting the signs can be critical to helping prevent damage to your home. One way to remove an ice dam is to melt it using calcium chloride ice melt.
Step 1. Using a roof rake, remove snow 3-4 feet from the edge of your roof, being careful not to damage the roof covering or to allow snow to build up around walking paths or to block emergency exits.
Step 2. Use a calcium chloride ice melt product, which you can generally purchase from your local hardware store. Be sure not to use rock salt or sodium chloride, which can damage your roof.
Step 3. Fill a nylon stocking with the calcium chloride ice melt.
Step 4. Safely place and position the calcium chloride-filled nylon stocking vertically across the ice dam so that it can melt a channel through the ice.
Step 5. Cover and protect any shrubbery and plants with lightweight tarps near the gutters or downspouts for the duration that the calcium chloride stockings remain in place. This is important because the calcium chloride-saturated water dripping from the roof may damage the shrubbery and plants.
REMEMBER: Using a ladder in snowy and icy conditions may be dangerous. If you cannot safely reach the roof, contact a contractor.
In the event of a loss contact your insurance professional or insurance carrier.
Comment below with thoughts or questions on this topic.