If you live in Milwaukee Wisconsin or anywhere nearby, you know that snow, ice and cold temperatures are a seasonal reality. Though we sometimes might curse the cold and snow for interfering with our drive to and from work, it can cause some problems with our homes, too. Where there is significant snowfall, ice dams can follow.
What Is an Ice Dam?
When ice stops melted snow from safely flowing off the roof, it is known as an ice dam. Just like a dam on a river or a lake, the ice holds back a reservoir of water, which will eventually freeze when temperatures drop again. This refreezing results in a larger dam that can stop even more water from flowing to the ground. Because of this, the water could end up seeping into your home instead, causing damage and mold to your walls, attic, insulation and more. As if that weren’t enough, the weight of the ice can grow so great, part of the roof could collapse.
How Does Insurance Help?
If your home is damaged by an ice dam, your homeowners insurance policy will likely cover the costs associated with repairs to the interior, exterior and structure. Additionally, if the ice dam that caused the damage is still present, the policy may also cover its removal. If there is an ice dam on your home and it has not yet caused damage, insurance views it as the responsibility of the homeowner to remove it or have it removed.
How Can I Remove and Prevent Ice Dams?
It’s much easier to prevent ice dams before they happen, than to have them removed later on. Fortunately, ice dams and the destruction they cause can mostly be avoided by taking a few precautions:
- Ensure that roof is properly insulated and the attic well ventilated.
- Regularly remove debris from gutters so runoff can flow.
- During the cold months, remove snow from the roof once it reaches 6 inches in depth using a roof rake or a shovel.
If you weren’t as proactive as you should have been, and an ice dam does form, it’s best to remove it as soon as possible to ward off potential damage. Begin by removing the snow from your eaves with a roof rake or shovel, or hire a professional to do it for you if you’re not up to the task. Keep in mind that it’s dangerous to climb upon an icy roof, so if you’re not up to the challenge, opt to have it hired out. Once cleared, the roof may warm up enough to melt the dam itself. If not, If not, you may need to lightly chip away at the ice, and apply some “ice melt”, to open up a channel for the melting snow to escape.
When you think disasters that can happen to your home, you probably don’t think about slow growing ice as being a problem. However, ice dams can be just as damaging as a violent storm. Ensure you have the proper insurance coverage, be vigilant with your prevention efforts, and remove an ice dam swiftly if you spot one. You could just save yourself a lot of work and frustration in the end.