Preventing ice dams

Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel asks residents to pay attention to the roofs of their homes and businesses to prevent ice dams and the hazards associated with them.

Ice dams form when melting snow runs down the slope of the roof and refreezes near the edge. As more snow melts and runs down the roof, water builds up behind the ice dam and could seep into a home or business, damaging walls, carpeting and cabinets.

We’ve had perfect weather for ice dams lately – unseasonably warm temperatures followed by a return of cold weather.

This week, for example, we’ve had above freezing weather and rain Monday, and by the end of the week, we’re expected to hit zero or single digits.

“When snow melts during the day and refreezes at night when temperatures fall, coupled with more snow, ice dams can form very quickly,” Nickel said in a statement.

Commissioner Nickel offers the following tips for preventing ice dams:

– Remove the snow from the bottom portion of your roof using a “roof rake” or a push broom. Do not climb on the roof.

– Limit the number of times you remove the snow to save your shingles from becoming damaged.

– Carefully seal all ceiling penetrations (light fixtures etc.) to keep warm, moist air out of the attic.

– Avoid chipping away at the ice as this can cause further damage to your roof and shingles.

– Make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and other obstructions to allow for water to flow freely to the ground.

– Keep the attic well insulated from the rest of the house to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from within the house. The colder your attic is the less melting and refreezing will occur on your roof. When you check the insulation, R-38 value is preferable in northern climates.

– Ensure your attic is well ventilated.

– Check with a professional contractor to do an in-home evaluation.

“After you check your roof, take time to check your insurance policy to make sure it is up to date,” Nickel added. “Ice damage can become very costly. It is important to have sufficient coverage in your insurance policy.”

For information about filing an insurance claim after an ice dam has caused damage to your home, contact your insurance agent or company.