Heavy snowfall and cold temperatures can bring destructive ice dams
Madison, Wis. (Dec. 14, 2009) — After a significant snowfall like so many across the country experienced recently, and as temperatures hover near or below freezing, ice dams can become a real threat to homes.
Ice dams can form on rooftops when melting snow runs down the slope of the roof and refreezes at the edge. As more melting snow accumulates behind the ice, the water can seep into the home, causing property damage to drywall, carpeting and cabinets. In serious cases, it can even collapse ceilings.
Prevent damage from ice dams by following some simple and effective tips from American Family Insurance:
- Keep the building's attic temperature as close to the outside temperature as possible by insulating the attic floor and installing adequate ventilation. Two types of vents are recommended: peak or roof-mounted vents allow warm air to exit the attic; soffit vents allow cold air to enter the attic.
- Even proper venting and insulation may not prevent ice dams when homes are covered by heavy snow, which may require removal of snow from the roof. It's only necessary to clear the bottom six feet to allow the water to reach the gutters and drain to the ground.
- If snow must be removed, consider hiring a qualified professional contractor to avoid the risk of injury. While this expense is not covered by insurance, having a professional do the work can be the safest option.
- Tools like roof rakes or snow pullers, available at local hardware stores, can be used to remove snow from a roof while the person is standing on the ground.
- Be sure to inspect gutters from the ground to see that they have not pulled away from the structure, and that they slope towards the downspouts. Clean gutters and downspouts to allow unobstructed flow of running water to the ground.
- For new construction in areas with heavy snowfall, it's highly recommended an ice and water shield be installed along the lower three feet of the roof and valleys. This rubber covering is placed under the shingles and seals around nails to prevent dammed up water from seeping through the roof.
Based in Madison, Wis., American Family Insurance offers auto insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, health insurance, business and farm/ranch insurance in 19 states. American Family insurance is the nation’s third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company and ranks 388th on the Fortune 500 list. Web: www.amfam.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/amfam; Twitter: www.twitter.com/amfam