Are you ready for SNOW & ICE ?
An ice dam is the accumulation of water from melted ice or snow that runs down to the bottom of the roof (the eave) and re-freezes at the roof edge. Ice dams can overflow into gutters and continue to freeze upwards, eventually creating a blockage or “dam” made of ice stretching several feet high up the slope of the roof.
Typical warning signs of ice dams include the presence of icicles on eaves or gutters, or the appearance of a “lump” or buildup at the eave of the roof.
Ice dams cause water from other melting ice and snow to back up under the roof covering, typically through nail holes or roof joints, and leak into the attic and interior of the home.
Common damages caused by ice dams include: water damage to ceilings, walls, light fixtures, personal contents, insulation, and roof decking. Ice dams may also cause damage to gutters, awnings, and in some cases lead to roof collapse.
What causes Ice Dams?
The most frequent cause of ice dams is lack of insulation and improper ventilation of the attic and roof systems. However, in some winter storm situations, large amounts of snow may accumulate on a roof in a very short period of time.
Then, the temperature during the day rises and begins melting the ice and snow, followed by a cooling in temperature at night; creating the ice at the eaves. Thus, in some cases, due to unique weather conditions, the ice dam may not simply be avoided relying solely upon proper insulation and ventilation.
In regard to insulation issues, when heat from inside the home escapes up into the attic, that heat can cause the ice or snow on the roof to melt.
This is typical of poor insulation techniques surrounding light fixtures, ceiling fans, attic access doors, HVAC ventilation ducts, additional attic systems, or the overall attic floor itself.
From a ventilation perspective, if the temperature at the bottom of the roof is significantly lower than the upper part of the roof, this causes water running down the roof to freeze when it reaches the cooler area near the eave.
This can be avoided using proper ventilation systems including: vented soffit, ridge vent, gable vents, powered attic vents, turbine vents, turtle vents, etc.
However, issues may arise if these systems were not properly installed; preventing proper air flow (intake and outtake) to maintain optimal attic and roof temperatures. Such issues may include, but are not limited to: faulty ridge cuts, felt installed over the ridge, no soffit intake ventilation, lack of proper outtake vents, etc.
How Can You Prevent Damage From Ice Dams?
•Ensure that your light fixtures, ceiling fans, attic access doors, HVAC ventilation ducts, additional attic systems, and the floor of your attic is properly insulated to prevent heat from escaping your living area into the attic.
•Do not install water heaters or other large mechanical equipment in your attic; these systems increase the attic temperature.
•Ensure that your roof has proper ventilation intake (ie: soffit vents) and outtake (ie: ridge vents) based on the total square footage of your attic.
•Install ice & water shield on the eaves, rakes, valleys, and low slope areas of your roof.
•Install drip edge over the top of the ice & water shield.
•Hire a professional to carefully remove large ice & snow build-up on your roof. Heated power washers and sprayers, or related carpet steaming devices are recommended for safest removal and provide the least risk of damaging your roof during the ice & snow removal process.
Note that removing ice & snow from your roof is dangerous and involves working in slippery and unsafe conditions. It's not recommended to attempt removing ice & snow from your roof without the help of a professional. Homeowners should ask their contractor about the tools, equipment, or chemicals they may use to perform the ice dam removal.
Using calcium chloride or rock salt is not recommended; it is corrosive and may damage or stain your roof, siding, gutters, downspouts, and flashing. The runoff from these chemicals can also damage your plants and lawn. Also, using tools such as pickaxes, sledgehammers, and various power drills and saws may damage the shingles, roof decking, or gutters.
Is Damage From Ice Dams Covered By Insurance?
Most home insurance policies cover the costs to repair damage caused by ice dams. This may also include ice & snow removal and water remediation services to protect the home from further damage.
However, your insurance policy may not cover home improvements or upgrades that may be necessary to prevent ice dams from occurring in the future. Such upgrades may include: installation of ice & water shield, drip edge, better insulation, or upgrades to your ventilation systems.
Note that some home insurance polices may cover some of the home improvements or upgrades listed above. If you are unsure about the type of coverage your home insurance policy provides, it's always best to contact your agent.
Ice Dam Insurance Claims - What To Expect:
If you experience damage from an ice dam and file an insurance claim, it's best to take as many photos as possible. If the conditions are safe, take photos of the ice dam on the exterior of the home as well as photos of the visible damages on the interior of the home.
Ensure that photos are taken prior to the ice dam being removed or any remediation and repair work being started. This may help the insurance company and claims adjuster to more quickly and accurately process your claim.
Generally, the insurance company or claims adjuster will request that you contact a water remediation company to tear out wet drywall, insulation, and other water damaged materials.
The water remediation contractor may also perform drying services, such as using dehumidifiers and fans to reduce the moisture levels, prevent mold, and prep the damaged area for final repairs. Best practices suggest removing and drying affected areas within 24-48 hours after the damage occurs in order to properly defend against mold growth.
In addition to water remediation, the insurance company or claims adjuster may request that you contact a professional ice & snow removal contractor to remove the ice dam and protect the home from further damage.
During the insurance company's inspection of your property, the claims adjuster will examine the exterior of the home to determine the scope of damages and repairs. Typical exterior damages from ice dams include water damage to roof decking, and weight of ice & snow damage to gutters and awnings.
There may also be damage to your shingles or other roof covering from related ice & snow removal. The adjuster will also examine the interior of the home to determine the scope of damages and repairs. Typical interior damages from ice dams include water damage to personal property, drywall, painting, insulation, light fixtures, trim work, flooring, etc.
After completing the inspection, the adjuster will provide you with an estimate and payment in order to begin the repairs. The adjuster will also make payment arrangements for any covered water remediation or ice & snow removal services. At this point, you should inform the adjuster of any questions or concerns you may have.
If you and your preferred repair contractor are in agreement with the adjuster’s estimate (scope and repair allowance), you may proceed with the repairs. If there are any scope changes or additional costs that arise, you should notify your adjuster in advance for approval.
Note that in order to expedite the approval of scope or cost changes, your contractor should provide the adjuster with a detailed supplemental estimate (line items, cost breakdown, etc.). Once approved, you may begin or resume the repairs.
So let me ask you again.,.,Are you ready for some snow and Ice ??? :whistling2:
Good Information For Everyone To Understand.
I would only add that air leakage (somewhat identified but not clearly stated) is often more problematic and easily as important as insulation levels in many cases.
Good insulation with a poor envelope is still an ice damn waiting to happen.
Thanks for the very, good info!!
Maybe this should be pinned - succinct and comprehensive!! :)
Worked for a roofing/siding "Distr./Installer" -
had a couple of winters where Ice-damns were happening all over.
In the middle of roofs!
Sometimes: hard to explain to the homeowner/s!
(Yes, I can go up and melt the Ice with a torch, or chip it off -
and I don't mean a "torch", that you get at the "hardware"/"Box store"!)
For someone who can't correct the ventilation yet, do you have any recommendations to external heat wires and such?
I see that many of my neighbors have these heat wires. I know it's preferable to correct the conditions that cause them, but unfortunately my Cape style house is not built in a way that will make that easy (or potentially possible). As a back up, I'd like to have heat wires up there to keep the gutters flowing and the edges of the roof ice free.
Is installation of these wires a DIY effort (assuming getting to and safely working there is possible) or does it take a practiced and experienced hand to able to mount these things w/o causing leaks due to roof penetrations?
I already have (3) exterior plugs on separate 20A circuits available for power.
IMO water and electricity are not very good friends and don't play well with each other.
I am unsure of heat type snow/ice build up preventer.
If I don't end up doing the insulation I will be adding the heat trace wire, I need to do something... and if there's no write up for determining what you need and how to install then I suppose I will work on it and hope I don't get wind up like this:
Call me paronoid.,.,but when it comes to electricity and water I proceed with caution.I know.,.,if it was not safe then it would not be on the market and have backing from UL.,(Underwriters Laboratories)
But just to be safe which ever product you decide to install.,take some time and contact the manufacture for direction and just to make sure it is the best product to fit your needs.
good information. thank you! it happened to me last winter. i noticed the icicles from the eaves and gutters and i didn't think it's related to the water leaking inside the house. i should try to remove snow from roof this winter to prevent it from happening again.
I also would recommend buying two... in case one breaks or your friend borrows one and never returns it :furious:
The statement about the drip edge is incorrect, despite what dennis says. I don't think Ohio has quite the weather that other areas of the country have. If you're wondering who dennis is...he had a blog almost exactly like this a year ago.
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I think MJW was just talking about regional differences and how some people don't understand/keep in mind/lose track of and in some cases simply ignore.
I don't know who the Dennis he's referring to is or what he said about drip edge but I do know "being from Ohio myself" that in my area of Ohio drip edge doe's not play as important a role in the roofing system as it doe's in other areas, it's purpose is actually as much for aesthetics as for mechanics "in my area".
So if this Dennis guy made a comment stating drip edge to be unimportant period, than he was obviously ignoring/not thinking about/not understanding of regional differences.
I see it happen in this forum and others almost daily.
Example: 3-tab shingles are junk and roofers who install them are below par roofers.
Yet in my area I can show you 20 too 25 year old 3-tabs still intact on roofs with no missing tabs or leaks and I can do so with out leaving the city block I live on and if we did leave the block I would end up showing you thousands of squares of 3-tabs that met or exceeded the 20yr & 25yr &30yr life expectancy.
Materials and workmanship both differ from region too region.
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