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Protect Your Home from Ice Dams

New England winters are beautiful, but they can also bring unique risks and challenges for homeowners. Ice dams, in particular, are a common winter threat that can cause serious damage to your home.

What is an ice dam?

After a snowfall, heat from the sun or from inside your home warms your roof, causing built-up snow and ice to melt.

Water refreezes when it reaches the colder roof edge, or when temperatures drop – forming an ice dam. The dam blocks water from running off and can cause it to back up under the roof shingles and leak inside your home.

What type of damage can an ice dam cause?

If you see icicles hanging from your roof, they may only be the ‘tip of the iceberg.’ Ice dams can weigh several hundred pounds. They can loosen shingles, damage gutters, and even compromise the roof structure. Inside, leaked water can damage ceilings, walls, floors, and insulation. Mold and mildew can set in if not caught and remedied soon enough.

What can I do to help prevent an ice dam?

  • Throughout the winter, keep gutters and down spouts clear of snow and icicles, to allow meltwater to flow.
  • Add insulation to the attic floor to keep heat where it belongs—in your home.
  • While standing on terra firma, use an expanding roof rake to remove as much snow as possible from the edges of the roof.
  • Have an ice shield installed along the edge of the roof and underneath shingles to stop leaks.
  • Hire a professional to check or install vents to help circulate cold air under the roof and flush out warmer air from inside.

What if I already have an ice dam?

Even with preventative measures, ice dams can still form. They’ll go away eventually, but with cycles of freezing, melting, and re-freezing, the risk of damage increases. It’s best to remove them, and when in doubt, contact a licensed, insured professional to do it.

If damage is sustained to your roof and home from an ice dam, it is typically covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. Depending on the type of policy you have, or the endorsements on the policy, damage to your personal property may or may not be covered. Take photos and document the damage – and call us to help you with the claims process.

If you have questions about this or other homeowner concerns and insurance implications, call on our team of friendly, experienced professionals at 978-998-4742.