Skip to main content

Tips for Preventing Ice Dams

By July 16, 2020 Insurance

Glistening icicles are one of winter’s finest natural beauties. But if they’re hanging off your roof, they may be a sign that your home is lacking proper insulation and ventilation.

If you’ve noticed icicles or patches of melted snow on your roof, it may be time to inspect your home for potential water damage. Even if your home doesn’t show these symptoms of ice dams, it’s always a good idea to take preventative measures to help ensure they don’t form.

What is an ice dam? Ice dams are formed from the buildup of melted snow running off of the roof and refreezing into ice along its edges and in the gutters. A common sign is icicles forming as the melted water drips off the roof and freezes.

How can I prevent ice dams? Heat that melts ice and snow on your roof typically comes from the attic, causing the home’s internal temperature to rise above the temperature outside.

Ensuring adequate insulation in the attic to help keep your roof cold is one way to combat ice dams. Check anywhere warm air might be leaking into the attic, including entryways to the attic, heating ducts, the chimney chase and gaps at the top of interior walls. Insulate light fixtures in the ceiling below the attic, and make sure rooftop vents are open and unblocked to allow warm air to escape.

On the outside of your home, keep all drains and gutters free of debris to let melting snow flow freely. When snow first falls, you can also consider using a roof rake, which can be used from the ground to clear snow before it melts. Never go up on your roof to get rid of snow.

Why are ice dams bad? Ice dams prohibit snowmelt from escaping off the roof and can force additional water to back up under the roof’s shingles. This buildup could result in water leaking into your home, causing potential damage not only to shingles and gutters, but also internal walls, ceilings and paint.

What if ice dams have already formed? If ice dams are already forming, resist the temptation to get on your roof or chip away at the ice from the ground. Both options can be dangerous and damage your roof.

Instead, hire a professional to clear your roof and repair any water damage. In order to help prevent ice dams from forming again, contact a roofing or insulation contractor to evaluate your home and diagnose potential problems.

Will my insurance cover the damage? If there is significant damage to your home from heavy snowfall or ice dams, you may be eligible for coverage under your homeowners insurance. Remember that any time you complete a claim, you must pay a deductible and it may increase your premiums.

If your roof is more than 10 years old, it may be time to schedule an inspection, especially if you’ve experienced ice dams. Talk to your independent agent about how replacing your roof may lower your premium.