5 Ways to Prevent Ice Dams this Winter

Here in New Hampshire, the extreme weather conditions we experience throughout the winter season can expose your home to an entirely new set of risks, from extended power outages to trees and branches falling under the weight of heavy snow. One seasonal risk that can cause long-term damage to your property if left unnoticed is ice dams, so it’s important to understand what they are, how to prevent ice dams from forming, and whether your home insurance policy covers ice dam damage.

What Are Ice Dams and How Do They Form?

how to prevent ice damsIce dams typically form at the edge of your roof or gutters when ice accumulates in these areas. When these walls of ice form, they block water runoff from your roof which creates a pool of water that can ultimately flow underneath the shingles and leak into your home. Ice dams can cause significant damage to your roof, ceilings, walls, flooring, insulation and personal property, and several factors that can increase their odds of forming include snowstorms, consecutive days of freezing temperatures, and an improperly ventilated attic. Without proper ventilation, your attic will contain warmer areas where less snow will accumulate and begin to melt faster, regardless of how cold it is outside.

How to Prevent Ice Dams

Considering the damage they can cause to your home and personal property, it’s important to take precautions to prevent ice dams from forming. Use the five tips below to better understand the different short- and long-term actions you can take to help you prevent ice dams this winter.

  • Reduce heat loss in your attic by increase the insulation, sealing and ventilation.
  • After a snowstorm, rid your roof of snow using a roof rake or push broom. Use extreme caution when working on your roof to prevent damaging it or injuring yourself. Do not use salt or calcium chloride to try to melt the snow on your roof, as these chemicals are corrosive and could shorten the life of metal gutters, downspouts and flashings.
  • If water has already begun leaking into your home, you can help the water behind the dam drain off your roof by making channels through the ice dam. You can accomplish this by hosing the ice dam with tap water on a warm day, starting at the lower edge of the dam and working upward. However, it’s important to remember that this will only serve as a temporary solution.
  • Make your ceilings airtight to inhibit warm air from flowing from the other rooms of your home into your attic.
  • Call a professional, especially if you do not feel comfortable working on your roof. If ice dams have already damaged your home, it’s best to call a professional property mitigation and remediation company to help you repair the damage and prevent the problem from worsening. Remember to verify that all workers on your property are protected with adequate liability insurance and worker’s compensation coverage.

Will Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Ice Dam Damage?

If you discover an ice dam after it’s too late and has already caused damage to your home, it’s important to understand whether you will have coverage. Fortunately, in most cases, a standard homeowners insurance policy will provide this type of coverage, but since every insurance company is different, it’s best to call your insurance agent to review your specific policy.

At Knapton, Reade & Woods, the protection of your home and valuable assets is important to us. For additional home maintenance and safety tips, please read our blog, or visit us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. To get a free home insurance quote, please call us today at 603-464-3422 or click here to submit our online quote request form.