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Ice Dams And The Damage They Cause
by The Sherriff

Icicles may be harmless in a Disney movie, but hanging from the roof edge of your home, they may indicate a potentially costly problem – ice dams. Caused by heat leaving the house through the roof, ice dams form when snow on the roof melts and a pool of water collects behind a dense ridge of ice. The trapped water slowly works its way under your shingles, entering the house where it can be responsible for significant damage to ceilings, walls and even flooring.

Preventing Ice Dams

The average homeowner claims nearly $5,500 per year in water and freezing damage, according to Claire Wilkinson of the Insurance Claims Institute. With this budget-busting number in mind, homeowners should understand the importance of proper ventilation, drainage and insulation as a way of preventing ice dams. Some keys to preparing your home before blistery winter months include:

  • Have your roof and drainage system inspected annually.
  • Keep gutters clear of leaves and other debris.
  • Protect the bottom part of the roof with an ice/water shield beneath the shingles.
  • Keep snow from building up on the lower 3- to 6-foot portion of your roof.
  • Use a calcium chloride ice melt product.
  • Install a heating cable along the eaves to melt snow.
  • Increase insulation on attic floors and ceilings.
  • Insulate ductwork in your attic as a way to decrease heat loss.
  • Check attic for improper ventilation, which includes rusty nails, rust spots and mildew.
  • Make sure soffit vents are not blocked.

What Homeowners Insurance Covers

Standard homeowners insurance polices cover ice dam water damage to all parts of your home and the subsequent repair costs.

However, if the insurance adjuster finds that the damage was caused by improper maintenance of the roof and gutter system, the claim will not be covered under the terms of the policy.

Removal of an ice dam that has not caused damage is usually rejected on the basis that homeowners are responsible for protecting their own property.

If the ice dam is found to be responsible for damage, most insurers only cover a portion of the removal costs for the part of the ice dam that caused the damage.

Removing Ice Dams

Contrary to popular belief, using a rake, shovel, snow blower or blowtorch to break up ice dams on your roof is never a good idea.

Besides being extremely dangerous, an improper snow-clearing tool can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to your roof and gutters.

When Spring Has Sprung

When the weather warms up and spring has sprung, you will need a professional to look at your roof and make any necessary repairs to your roofing system. Sherriff-Goslin offers free roofing inspections and roofing estimates. Contact a customer service representative to schedule an appointment.

Ice Dam Diagram
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