It’s that time of year in the Midwest when we are dealing with sub-zero temps, inches of snow on the ground, depression from the Packers losing in the playoffs, and a constant question of “Why in the world do I still live here!?” (Hey, at least we expect this sort of weather. That can't be said about people in Atlanta!)
As a personal lines insurance professional in this area, and fully aware of the most popular homeowner claims this time of year, as soon as I see snow accumulating on my own roof, I immediately grab the roof rake and clean off as much as I can possibly reach. I do this to avoid an ice dam from forming on my roof and the extensive damage that comes along with it!
An ice dam occurs from a wonderful combination of snow on the roof, outside temperatures, and heat leaking into the home’s attic area. There is usually a large chunk of ice that forms along the edge of the roof that prevents the water from the melted snow from escaping. What happens is the water will end up finding any imperfection on the roof and start leaking in. I’m sure you can imagine what goes down from there! Water logged beams and boards, drywall, furniture, and we won’t dare say the “M” word — mold!
How can you stop ice dams? Here are some prevention tips:
- Buy a cheap roof rake and clean off the edges of the roof any time there is more than a couple inches.
- If you see a large ice buildup, chip away at some of it to let the water escape.
- Check your attic for proper ventilation and insulation. You should not be paying to heat your attic!
- Leaves and other debris always seem to find our gutters — make sure you are clearing them out regularly in the fall. (Or, if you're like me, you can procrastinate until it’s already freezing! This works, too, but it's pretty unpleasant.)
- Home supply stores (Home Depot, Lowes, etc.) sell ice shields and de-icing systems that you can install.
Sometimes just being aware is the key! Your homeowners policy does offer coverage for these types of damages. But if you can prevent an ice dam in the first place (and avoid tapping into that personal lines insurance), you will save yourself many headaches!