Winter in Minnesota means many things, but with annual snowfall extremes reaching over 170 inches in the North Shore, you could unknowingly be putting your home at risk for serious water damage.
Keep reading to get the answers to:
- What are ice dams?
- What causes ice dams?
- What should I do if I have an ice dam right now?
- Does my homeowners insurance cover ice dams?
- How to prevent ice dams.
What are ice dams?
An ice dam is a thick ridge of ice that forms at a roof’s edge which prevents snow and water from properly draining. Water that gets trapped behind the dam is especially troublesome because it may cause leaks to the home’s interior ceiling, walls, insulation, and other areas.
What causes ice dams?
1. Heat from your house
It’s only natural that you’d want to crank up that thermostat when it’s cold out but homes with poor insulation and ventilation lose an enormous amount of heat through the attic. Heat moves through the ceiling and insulation where it reaches the roof, causing snow on the roof surface to melt and trickle down.
A good predictor of your home’s insulation is the formation of icicles.
2. Heat from the sun
Roofs are typically darker in color which speeds up the melting of snow. But not every surface will thaw at the exact same time and when meltwater reaches the cold eves along the gutters, it freezes, forming an ice a dam. Any melting that happens later will often seep its way under shingles and down through the ceiling.
Non-uniform roof temperatures lead to ice dams.
What to do if you have an ice dam right now.
Call a professional
Remove as much snow as you can from your roof yourself but if you suspect an ice dam has already formed on your roof, consider having a local licensed and insured professional remove it. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you risk making your situation worse by damaging your roof.
If you’re too late and already have water damage, your home can become a breeding ground for mold and mildew. What you thought were “just allergies” may actually be caused by festering mold.
Does homeowners insurance cover ice dams?
While home insurance policies typically exclude maintenance items such as ice dam removal, it may cover damage to your home that was caused by one. If you are concerned with this kind of damage, talk with us to review your specific homeowners policy since each company handles things differently.
How to prevent ice dams.
You don’t want to heat the roof of your home. By keeping the roof or attic of your home cold you will decrease the amount of melting snow and it will dissipate without large amounts of melt-water.
2. Roof rakes
You can purchase a “roof rake” at your nearby hardware store to help remove snow from your roof. Reducing the amount of snow quickly is crucial to protecting your home from damage by eliminating the main ingredient needed to form ice dams.
Coverage From All Sides
With record-breaking snowfalls this winter, it’s best to be vigilant about how your roof is holding up. If you’d like to know more about your situation, we’d be happy to look over your homeowners policy to make before the next snowfall comes!
Peter Cole, an independent insurance agent and partner at Pentagon Insurance Agency in Elk River, MN, began his career in the industry more than 30 years ago. He prides himself on backing up every sale by giving personal service to each client and by providing the coverage they need at the best possible price. Talk over your insurance situation with Pete today!
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