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Winter has gotten a head start in Wisconsin, with many residents already experiencing significant snow falls. Such early snow increases the time period for ice dams to occur.
Ice dams are caused when the sun shines on your roof or warmth from the attic melts the snow…and as the water runs down, it meets the cold edge of the roof and re-freezes. Ice dams can cause a lot of damage to ceilings, walls, floors, insulation and other property inside your home.
“The good news is that most basic homeowners’ policies cover damage caused by ice dams,” says Ron Van 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. The attic and roof should be cold so the temperature doesn’t melt the ice on the roof.
• Seal air leaks in your attic to prevent warm air from escaping and causing snow to melt.
• If you are concerned about ice dams or heat loss, this is a great time 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.
• Some home improvement contractors encourage the use of roof rakes to remove extensive snow build-up when it gets over six inches, others caution that shingles can be too easily damaged with roof rakes. 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 bare; you are just doing preventive maintenance by removing some snow.
• 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.”
It is also important when you are making repairs to make sure the contractor you use is licensed and reputable.