Ice Dams, What They Are and How to Insure Against Them

ice dams homeowners insurance medford mass

When the outside air temperature dips below freezing, homeowners face new challenges. Some are frequently talked about—rising fuel bills, frozen pipes, paying for snow removal. But others are often ignored or forgotten about until a homeowner is directly affected.

One such is the dreaded ice dam.

An ice dam is caused by a ridge of ice that traps water from melting snow running off a roof. For an ice dam to form the temperature of the roof above it must be higher than 32°F, while at the location of the dam, the temperature must be at or lower than 32°. There must also be snow on the roof. On the warmer section of roof the snow melts and the water runs down the roof until it reaches the colder section where it freezes. As more water runs down, more ice is formed and, in time, an ice dam is created, trapping the water above it. Because this water is trapped on an area of warmer roof, it will remain liquid and eventually seep through cracks in the roof causing water damage inside the house.

To avoid ice dams it is important to remove snow from your roof as soon as possible. If water is already seeping in, try to create gulleys in the dam itself. If the air temperature is warm enough you can do this by directing a hose with running tap water in strategic places to melt the ice dam and allow the water above to run through. In colder conditions you can apply ice melt to the frozen area.

If you suffer frequent ice dams it may be that you are losing too much heat through your roof. For longer-term solutions, improve your home’s insulation, both between the upper story and attic and between the attic and roof. You might also want to install heated cables to the lower edge of the roof.

If you do experience damage from an ice dam, are you insured? Most home policies will cover you for damage done by the ice dam and some may even cover the removal of the dam itself. However, personal property policies often do not insure belongings against water damage caused by ice dams.

To learn more about your insurance and what it covers, call us today at 781-396-4985.

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