Rooftop Snow Could Spell Trouble with Ice Dams

Jan. 11, 2010

January 8, 2010 – Driveways and sidewalks may not be the only things that need clearing after the recent heavy snows in Milwaukee County. Residents may want to turn their attention to their roofs to prevent home damage caused by ice dams, says American Family Insurance.


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 seeps into the home, damaging drywall, carpeting and cabinets; and sometimes even collapsing ceilings.


“The recent snowstorms have created conditions that are ideal for ice dams,” says American Family Agent Pete Gramoll. “The good news is that in some cases homeowners can prevent the situation from becoming a major problem.”


The best approach is to clear snow from the bottom 6 feet of the roof, which allows water from the melted snow to reach the gutters and drain to the ground. This can be done – without climbing on the roof – by using an extendable “roof rake” that can be purchased from a hardware store or homemade. It is not necessary to clear snow from the entire roof.


“Our hope is to nip the problem before it occurs so homeowners can save on the deductible expense they would incur if they did sustain damage and had to file a claim,” Pete says.


Long-term, a key to ice dam prevention is keeping the building’s attic temperature as close as possible to the outside temperature. This means insulating the attic floor and installing adequate ventilation. Peak or roof-mounted vents allow warm air to exit the attic; soffit vents allow cold air to enter the attic. Both types of vents are advised.


Moreover, inspect gutters from the ground to see that they have not pulled away from the structure, and that the gutters slope towards the downspouts. Clean gutters and downspouts to allow unobstructed flow of running water to the ground.


Pete Gramoll has been an agent for American Family Insurance since 1975. His office is located at 4484 N Oakland Ave, Shorewood. Pete can be contacted at 414-332-0838.


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