At Chalmers Insurance, we’ve been in business for over 160 winters. Unfortunately we've seen our fair share of winter and weather related claims. In today's blog post, we will share what we've learned about ice dams: what causes them and how to prevent them.
Let's start with the basics. What is an ice dam?
An ice dam is ice buildup forming at the edge of a roof, preventing snow and water from eventually draining off. It can be caused by a combination of uneven heat loss from your home and wintry conditions re-freezing melted snow. This causes the roof to warm above freezing temperature, which allows snow to melt and then re-freeze before it reaches the roof’s edge. Ice dams do melt and go away on their own eventually, but while they are present, they can leak into the home, causing damage to your roofing, walls, insulation, flooring and more.
So, how do we prevent them?
First things first: Clean leaves and other debris from gutters before the first snow. This will help prevent ice buildup in your gutters.
Next, while snow and icy weather is occurring, be sure to watch your roof and gutters for any signs of accumulating water or ice dams forming. Clear snow from your roof and correct any blockages causing water to accumulate. Remember that even dry, fluffy snow can absorb additional sleet and rain and harden, so it should be cleared off if possible. Clear as much as three to four feet above the gutter to allow water to drain freely.
Keep heat out of the attic by properly insulating the attic floor and fixing air leaks. According to the Department of Energy, one square foot of free ventilation opening is recommended for every 150 square feet of attic space. Consider hiring an energy specialist to evaluate the performance of your home and recommend some things you can do to minimize energy waste.
What if I already have an ice dam? What should I do?
If an ice dam forms, sprinkle a melting compound to break it up. Calcium chloride ice melt is the most effective. One easy trick is to fill a pair of nylons with calcium chloride ice-melt. Lay the nylons along the ice dam, ensuring it hangs over the gutter. The calcium chloride will gradually melt the snow, creating a channel for water to escape through. Avoid using traditional rock salt, as it may cause further damage and faster deterioration of your gutters.
Are ice dams covered by homeowners insurance?
Yes and no. Ice dam damage to your roof and gutters are typically covered by your Maine or New Hampshire homeowners insurance policy. However, depending on how the policy is written and which endorsements are included, damage to your personal property caused by an ice dam may or may not be covered. Services to remove ice dams are not covered. Call Chalmers today to find out what is covered for you specifically.
No matter how much home preparation you do for the winter weather, you can never 100% guarantee you won’t have a claim. If you do experience a winter-related claim, we are here for you!
For any questions, give us a call at 1-800-360-3000 today. We are here and available to help you navigate your winter weather concerns.