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Ice Damming: Protecting Your Home from the Ice and Snow

Ice damming can cause serious damage to your home but many homeowners are not aware that the danger exists.  What is an ice dam?  An ice dam occurs when snow on your roof starts to melt because of heat in your attic and then freezes when it reaches the cold eaves.  This often causes large icicles to hang down over your eaves.  The icicles may be pretty but the ice dams can hurt your home.  Ice dams prevent the rest of the melting snow from flowing off your roof.  The excess water can loosen your shingles, break gutters or even seep back and pour into your house causing soggy attic insulation, peeling paint, stained and sagging ceilings, mold and more.  So what can you do to prevent this problem and what should you do if it happens?

To prevent ice damming you need to balance the heat on your roof so that it is even.   The first step is to find out where the heat is coming from, for example it could be the chimney, spots without enough insulation or it could be a lack of ventilation.  To ensure the ventilation of the ridge and eaves, make sure that the soffit vents (the vents on the eaves) have at least a 1-foot opening for every 300 feet of attic.  Also clear a path to the vents so that they are able to work properly.  Cover any hatches that allow heat to escape to the attic and add insulation to your attic floor.  Insulate your ducts from the laundry, kitchen and bathroom as well and make sure that they lead outdoors so they are not heating the attic.  Check to see if you have IC (insulation contact) style lights because old style lights create a column of heat in the attic.  Use firestop sealant to cover electrical cables, vent pipes and the space where the chimney meets the house.  Do not use regular insulation as that creates a dangerous fire hazard.  These measures will help protect your house against ice dams.

What if you already have an ice dam?  There are several quick fixes available to you.  Setting a fan so that it blows on the roof will cool the water and stop leaking even if it has already begun to seep into your attic.  To get rid of snow on the roof you can rake it using a long handled aluminum roof rake.  This allows you to shovel snow off your roof while standing safely on the ground.  You can also remove ice to make a path for water to flow through by laying old panty hose filled with calcium chloride ice melt on the roof so that it overhangs the gutter.  If necessary you can use a long handled garden rake to push the hose onto the roof.  If you have damages you can report them to your insurance provider, but remember that your deductible does apply.  If the cost of your damages are close to your deductible you may want to carefully consider filing a claim because when it is time for renewal it could increase your rates.


Be sure to protect your home against ice damming this winter with Connecticut homeowners insurance, stay safe!

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