Preventing Ice Dams in Your MA Home This Winter

Ice DamsWith winter in full swing, it’s time to start thinking about preventing ice dams in your MA home this winter season. Ice dams can cause significant damage to your home, creating headaches and expensive insurance claims. Avoid that nightmare this season by better understanding ice dams and taking preventative measures.

How Ice Dams Are Formed

Ice dam dangers begin after snow starts accumulating on your roof top. Heat escaping through roof vents or the beaming sun during warmer days can melt the snow at the top of your roof. As it flows down, it often refreezes along the edges of your roof, creating a dam. Once a dam is in place, additional melting snow has no place to go. It starts pooling behind the dam and seeping underneath roof shingles. It eventually makes it into your home, causing water damage to ceilings, walls, and wiring. This water can also result in mold damage over time.

Ways of Preventing Ice Dams

  1. Add Insulation – Poor attic insulation allows heat to escape through the roof. Adding insulation to your attic can reduce this effect and minimize the potential for ice dams.
  2. Clear Snow Off Roofs – Clearing the snow off your roof will lessen the chances of an ice dam forming. This can be dangerous during the winter time, so consider hiring a company to clear off the snow rather than doing it yourself. If you have a single level home with a low roof, you may be able to safely to perform this task while standing on level ground and using a specially-made snow broom.
  3. Keep Gutters Clear – Clogged gutters facilitate ice dams, so be sure to keep your gutters clear of debris.
  4. Install heating coils along the roof line – You’ve probably seen wiring along roof lines in a zig-zag pattern. These are heating coils used specifically to prevent ice dams by melting snow along the edge of the roof.

What to Do If You Have an Ice Dam

Water spots inside of your home are typically the first signs of an ice dam. Unfortunately, by the time you recognize it, some damage is already done.

First and foremost, address the problem from the outside. Hire a professional to clear off snow from the roof. That same professional can create channels along different sections of the ice dam to allow water to flow through. Usually, breaking up the dams directly are not a good idea since it can damage your roof shingles. Furthermore, avoid using corrosive chemicals to break up the dam as these can cause more headaches.

For the interior of your home, it is important to remove and replace the damaged materials. Cutting away the moistened sections of ceiling, drywall, and floor boards will allow you to evaluate and assess any damage underneath. Opening the space will also allow the moisture to dry up (preventing mold growth). Unless you are experienced with such home repairs, consider hiring a contractor. Properly addressing the issues will ensure that the damage does not worsen or spread to other areas of the home.

Why Make Preventing Ice Dams a Priority

Water damage to your home can be extremely expensive to repair. You may want to contact your MA homeowners insurance company to file a claim. Keep in mind that you will still incur out of pocket expenses for your deductible. Additionally, the more claims you file, the higher your homeowners insurance premiums are likely to be in the future. It’s often best to avoid these issues altogether by preventing ice dams in your MA home to begin with.