Loss Prevention Tips: Preventing Ice Dams

February 03, 2016

Ice dams are typically caused by uneven heat loss from your home in wintry conditions such as snow, heat melting the snow, and cold temperatures re-freezing melted snow. The heat is typically caused by inadequate attic insulation or from warm air seeping into the attic from living spaces below. This causes the roof to warm above freezing temperature, which allows snow to melt and then re-freeze before it reaches the roof’s edge. If this cycle repeats over and over, an ice dam forms and water collects behind it. As the water pools, it backs up under your roofing material and can cause expensive water damage.

As clean up began and the damage assessed, many of our clients called in to our office asking “is this covered on my policy?” Water damage, whether it is from pipes, sewers, sumps, or floods, is one of the risks where it pays to know your limits and what is and is not covered.

Our Top Tips

To prevent the formation of ice dams:

Keep the attic well ventilated. According to the Department of Energy, one square foot of free ventilation opening is recommended for every 150 square feet of attic space.

Seal air leaks to prevent warm air leakage from plumbing vents, junction boxes from ceiling fixtures and attic hatches.

Keep the attic well insulated (at least 12 feet of insulation) to minimize the amount of heat rising into the attic from below.

Clean leaves and other debris from gutters before the first snow. This will help prevent ice buildup in your gutters. Also consider using an ice shield under your shingles when your house is getting re-roofed.

Use a roof rake to clear the snow above the gutter. Clear as much as three to four feet above the gutter to allow water to drain freely into the gutter.

Consider hiring an energy specialist to evaluate the performance of your home, and recommend some things you can do to minimize energy waste.

We are here to help you with all loss prevention home matters. Contact us today at (515) 232-7060 and let us know how we can assist you.