Central Oregon and many parts of the country look like winter wonderlands, almost as if they were pulled directly out of a snow globe. Here in La Pine, we know that beauty can also be a beast in terms of potential roof and home damage. Ice dams are continuous chunks of ice that form along the margins of your roof. Ice dams, while frozen, are no more trouble than an icicle hanging down. During the warmer parts of the day; however, water melting off of the roof pools behind the ice and seeps up under the shingles. While ice dams commonly occur in snowy parts of the country, they can be reduced or even eliminated with the proper care and prevention tactics.
What is an Ice Dam?
Ice dams typically form after a heavy snowfall when warm air in the attic of a home causes the roof to warm and the snow to melt. When the water reaches the colder roof edge, it forms an ice mound and traps meltwater. This results in water seeping back up under the shingles and dripping through the roof into your home. Signs of an ice dam will be wet, stained ceilings and wall, peeling paint and rot. Unfortunately, manufactured homes do not have insurance coverage for ice dams.
How to Prevent Ice Dams
The best way to prevent ice dams is by keeping the entire roof at the same temperature as the eaves. This is done by increasing ventilation, adding insulation and sealing off potential air leaks that might warm the underside of your roof. Use these tips to prevent ice dams on your home:
- Close Attic Air Leaks — Most heat loss in a home comes from air leaks caused by unblocked walls, cracks around light fixtures, gaps in drywall, cracks around chimneys, access hatches and other ceiling damage. While they can be tough to stop, you can climb into your attic and use foam and caulk to plug the leaks. In addition to mitigating ice dams, this also helps you save energy and reduce your heating and air conditioning bills.
- Ventilate Eaves and Ridges — Right vents and continuous soffit vents help circulate cold air under the entire roof. Both types of vents should have the same size opening and have at least one square foot of opening for every 300 square feet of the attic floor.
- Add insulation — The more insulation on the attic floor, the more heat stays where it belongs. Check with your local building department to find out how much insulation your attic needs.
Preventing Damage From Ice Dams
A cold roof may not always be the perfect solution. It’s already January and it may be too late in the season to prevent ice dams themselves, which means you need to have a strategy for preventing damage from ice dams.
- Rake Your Roof — A snow rake is an aluminum scraper attached at a right angle on a telescoping aluminum pole and is a simple solution for occasional heavy snowfall. Pulling the snow down with a roof rake prevents it from melting and forming an ice dam. While the process can be tedious, it’s an effective way to prevent ice dams on single-story homes.
- Steam the Snow Off — If you already have leakage from an ice dam on your roof and can’t rake the snow off, consider hiring a roofing company to steam it off. A steamer is used similarly to a pressure washer, but with hot water instead. This process melts the ice away without damaging the roofing.
Protect Your Home From Snow Damage
We talk a lot about ice dams in Central Oregon after several severe snowstorms over the last few years. Ice dams aren’t the only winter worry to keep an eye on during the snowy months.
- Watch for Roof Overload — Snow can overload your roof due to the extra weight. Watch for a sagging roof and listen for popping and cracking sounds. If you cannot rake all of the snow off of your roof, consider hiring a roofing contractor to remove the extra snow weight from your roof.
- Remove Dangerous or Damaged Tree Branches — Tree branches can be affected by snow, wind and ice. When stressed branches break and fall they can damage your home, care or a person standing nearby.
- Protect Your Pipes — If water inside of your pipes freezes, the pipes can burst or crack, which may result in major damage. Drain any water from outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems. Protect pipes that run through unheated interiors, like attics and garages, with insulation. Know where your water shut-off valve is located in the event of a water emergency.
- Seal Doors and Windows — Gaps occur naturally around windows and doors, which can make it difficult to keep your home warm. Seal these areas with caulk and install weather stripping to help prevent warm air loss. These minor fixes and help you save on heating costs.
- Snowmelt Can Flood Your Home — Sometimes the worst snow damage occurs when temperatures rise. Snowmelt can leak through cracks in your foundation, resulting in a flooded basement, damage to your walls and repeat cycles of melting and refreezing can crack your foundation.
Contact Bancorp Insurance for Home Insurance
Living in a snowy part of the country accentuates the need for prevention and preparedness during the winter months. Remember to prevent ice dams and in the event that they occur, take care of them as soon as possible. At Bancorp Insurance, we can answer your questions about common home insurance claims related to snow and extreme winter weather and recommend the right home insurance plan for your needs.