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Advocate Brokerage Experts Explain The Dangers Of Ice Dams

Advocate Brokerage insurance specialists believe in educating their clients.
Advocate Brokerage insurance specialists believe in educating their clients. Photo Credit: Advocate Brokerage

SCARSDALE, N.Y. -- To say it's been cold is an understatement. With temperatures recently falling below 32 degrees, many of us have chosen to stay inside with a hot cup of coffee. Looking ahead in the forecast though, to temperatures creeping above the freezing mark and then dipping back down again, there is an important topic to address: ice dams.

An ice dam is a solid formation of ice at the edge of a roof. Sometimes ice dams are present with icicles, but other times they're not. These ice formations create barriers that prevent melting snow from running off the roof, into the gutter system and safely away from the foundation of a home.

When an ice dam forms it can rip gutters off, loosen shingles and cause leaks in attics and walls.

If you're wondering how this can happen, and what you can do to prevent it, keep reading…

An ice dam forms when the heat from inside a home rises to the attic and warms the underside of the roof. This is a natural process, but it causes snow on the roof to melt, and as the melting snow begins to run off the roof and reach the eaves -- the part of a roof that extends beyond the walls -- the snow refreezes and creates a thick layer of ice which forms an ice dam. 

Once ice dams exist, new snow sitting on the roof has nowhere to go when it melts. This can cause a host of problems and even lead to structural damage.

To prevent ice dams from forming, homeowners should keep attics cool. Minimize the amount of heat that rises by insulating the attic floor, or keep attics ventilated so cold air from outside can circulate and reduce the overall temperature.

While it is possible to remove snow from the roof to prevent ice dams, it can be dangerous. Consider your personal safety first -- if you cannot safely reach the snow, don’t try to remove it. With that in mind, if you still choose to remove the snow, remember these tips:

• With a flat or low sloping roof, DO use a push broom.

• DON’T try to chip or break up ice dams.

• With a sloped roof, DO stand on the ground and use a roof rake.

• DON’T use a snow blower or shovel.

• DO contact a professional to come and remove snow for you.

• DON’T attempt snow removal if it will push against the grain of roof shingles.

• DO what you can to ventilate your attic.

At Advocate Brokerage, we believe in educating each client we serve. If you have any questions or concerns regarding ice dams, the damage they can cause or specifics as they relate to your homeowners insurance, we encourage you to give us a call at (914) 723-7100.