All About Ice Dams

All About Ice Dams

Jan 21 2020

All About Ice Dams

Ice on gutter

Icicles may be beautiful, but when they are huge and hanging off the side of your home, they can tear off gutters, loosen shingles and cause water damage inside your home. Not to mention, they pose a serious threat to household members, visitors, and pets if one were to break free and fall.

We want to make sure you have all the tools to protect your home from any damage this winter. In order to help you combat ice dams, we’ve compiled some of our best tips to help you prevent them from forming on your home:

What causes ice dams?

Ice dams form when indoor heating rises through the ceiling into the attic and warms the roof surface. Snow on the heated part of the roof melts and flows down until it meets the part of the roof that is below 32 degrees. At that point, the water freezes into an ice dam.

Poor ventilation and temperature control in the attic can also cause ice dams. Excess warm air in the attic can cause the snow on the roof to melt regardless of the temperature outside. Recessed lighting, skylights, complex roof designs, and heating ducts in the attic can increase the chances of an ice dam developing.

How can I prevent ice dams?

  • Keep gutters clear of debris and snow, including the bottom of the downspouts so that when the snow begins to melt, the water may flow freely.
  • Snow removal with a roof rake will eliminate the buildup of snow and decrease the potential of melting and freezing. Remember to be mindful of any electrical wiring!
  • Seal any air leaks where warm air is leaking from the living space into the attic. The temperature in the attic should be the same temperature as it is outside.
  • Hire a professional to properly insulate your attic and vent your attic space.

If you get an Ice Dam

  • Use a melting agent like calcium chloride (which should be available at your local hardware store or online). Be sure not to use rock salt or sodium chloride, which can damage your roof.
  • Never use an ax, blowtorch, or hammer to chip away the ice.
  • As always, if you think the situation is unsafe or dangerous, consider hiring a licensed and insured contractor to complete the work.

Does homeowners insurance cover ice dam removal costs?

If an ice dam has developed on your roof but hasn’t resulted in any damage to your place, your insurance company won’t likely pay to have it removed simply as a preventive measure. That’s because preventive roof maintenance is the responsibility of each property owner, and for this reason, snow or ice removal is typically not covered under a standard homeowner’s policy.

If you want to know if your carrier will cover ice dam damage, talk to your local Bearingstar agent today. Our agents live in neighborhoods like yours and are uniquely qualified to determine what kind of insurance you need to cover any damage or losses you might suffer.

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