With winter approaching rapidly it is time to look at potential threats to your home during the cold season. A common cause of leaky roofs in the winter are ice dams. An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof. This ridge prevents melting snow [water] from draining off the roof. What happens is that the water is backed up behind this dam. If the water sits for long enough it could seep through and start leaking into your home.
How To Get Rid Of An Ice Dam
If you suspect an ice dam has formed on your roof there are some simple solutions to solve the problem. You will need calcium carbonate (“ice melt”), a ladder, and a large rake. Carefully rake the snow away from the problem area to give you clean access to the ice dam.
Next, fill a nylon stocking with the ice melt and place it vertically on top of the ice dam so a channel will form as the ice melt starts working.
Keep in mind that the ice melt chemicals can be damaging to shrubbery. If you have plants below where the ice dam is you may want to cover them with a tarp so the water filled with calcium carbonate doesn’t hurt them.
Do Metal Roofs Prevent Ice Dams?
The short answer to this question is yes. Metal roofs typically will shed snow quicker and not build up snow as quickly. What is very important to remember is that a membrane should be installed at the lip where the roof ends. What this does is prevent water from seeping under the roof and into the interior of your home.
Without this membrane, water will eventually work its way under. Be sure to make sure your contractor understands what is involved when installing a new roof.
Are Ice Dams Covered By Insurance?
While the removal of the ice dam is typically not covered by insurance, any damage that it may have caused could be. Typically, you will find lots of fine print on these kind of issues within a home owners insurance policy.
For example, if an ice dam formed while you were out of town and caused water damage inside, the water damage will likely be covered as well as the roof repair. On the other side, if you come home to find an ice dam that you want to remove, this is typically the job for a handyman and likely not worth contacting an insurance provider over.
Major Issues Caused By Ice Dams
The biggest problem that you will likely have from an un-treated leaky ice dam is the unseen water damage. Mold thrives in wet environments, such as the drywall between your ceiling and attic. If you noticed an ice dam on your roof and are not sure how long it has been there, it is a good idea to have a water mitigation service come and test for moisture in your walls.
Not taking care of water in your walls or ceilings will lead to big problems as the summer months come and the mold continues to grow. A small ice dam can turn into a big problem.
Preventing Ice Dams
Using a metal roof is a great first step in preventing ice dams. When you install the roof, it is important to make sure you work with the contractor in how to design the attic for optimal airflow. Keeping the attic at a consistent temperature will also help prevent any ice buildup.
If ice dams have plagued you in the past, you might consider a heated roof. While your energy costs might be higher, a heater roof will ensure snow melts quickly.