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MADISON – During the winter, sun shines on your roof or warmth from the attic melts the snow…and as the water runs down, it often meets the cold edge of the roof and re-freezes. This is when ice dams occur. Ice dams can create a lot of damage to ceilings, walls, floors, insulation and other personal property inside your home.
“The good news is that most basic homeowners’ policies cover damage caused by ice dams,” says Ron Von Haden, CIC, Executive Vice President of the PIAW. “However, due to the inconvenience it’s better to prevent ice dams from happening in the first place.”
- Be sure that your attic is properly insulated and ventilated, so that the temperature stays at a consistent level, under 32 degrees or below. Yes, you want your roof to be cold so the internal temperature doesn’t melt the ice on the roof.
- Seal air leaks in your attic to prevent warm air from escaping and causing the snow to melt.
- If you are concerned about ice dams or heat loss, this is a great time of year to have an Energy Star professional inspect your attic, roof and home, to look for areas of heat loss or poor ventilation, and offer potential money-saving recommendations.
- Clean leaves and other debris from gutters before the first snow. This will help prevent ice build-up in gutters.
- Some home improvement contractors encourage the use of roof rakes to remove extensive snow build-up when it gets over six inches. If you choose to rake your roof, be very careful not to damage the shingles or pull snow and other loose debris onto yourself or others. The roof does not need to be down to bare shingle, you are just doing preventive maintenance.
- Do not try to clear icicles. If you have large icicles, this is a sign that you may have a large ice dam. Large icicles can weigh several hundred pounds and have severely injured and even killed people. Leave that job to the professionals.
If you experience damage from an ice dam, notify your insurance agent as soon as possible to begin filing a claim. Make a list of all damaged or lost personal property and take photos, if possible.
“You can make temporary repairs immediately to protect your property from further damage. Keep the receipts and include them in your insurance claim. Permanent repairs must wait until the insurance adjuster has had a chance to review the damage,” notes Von Haden.
It is also important when you are making repairs to make sure the contractor you use is licensed and reputable.
For more information or to locate a PIA member near you, look for the PIA logo or go to www.PIAW.org.