Ice dams are a common cause of homeowner's insurance claims during winter, but only after they cause damage to the home. Most insurers won't pay to have them removed as a preventative measure. Because of this, it's crucial to know what ice dams are, what causes them, and how to remove or prevent them.
What Is an Ice Dam?
Ice dams form as melting snow runs off a warm roof and reaches the eaves. There, it freezes again because the eaves—which overhang open air—are not warmed from below like the rest of the roof is. As this thaw-and-freeze cycle recurs, large, heavy ice dams and dangerous icicles form along the edges of your roof. These further prevent the snowmelt from draining properly, so the moisture backs up beneath the shingles where it can leak into the house or freeze and damage the roof. Only once damage has occurred will your homeowner’s insurance policy cover their removal.
How Do You Remove & Prevent Ice Dams?
The easiest way to remove a fully-formed ice dam is to use a heated electric cable clipped to the edge of the roof. Run the cable in a zigzag pattern along the eaves and plug it into an exterior outlet. It will slowly melt the dam and prevent moisture from refreezing until the eaves are clear.
However, you can often avoid the problem entirely by using a snow rake—a long-handled device that lets you reach the roof without climbing a ladder—to clear the roof of snow before it can melt. Also, melting snow is a sign that heat is escaping through your roof. Better insulation will prevent heat loss, minimize snowmelt, reduce heating expenses, and help you avoid a homeowner’s insurance claim.
To guard against the costs of damage due to ice dams this winter, contact K.L. Smith Agency in Willimantic, CT, and ask about homeowner’s insurance. They have been helping businesses and individuals in and around Windham County design the right policies since 1956. They also specialize in business, life, auto, and renter’s insurance. Visit their website to view directions and office hours, or call (860) 423-9294 to request a free, no-obligation quote.