Untouched snow on the roof of home looks pretty, but this winter’s heavy snowstorms mixed with frigid temperatures can cause an ice dam to develop on that roof. Ice dams prevent melting snow from properly draining. This can cause serious damage to insulation, ceilings, and walls if the water seeps inside the home. … which leads to that homeowner filing a claim.
To help your clients prevent damage and their rates from climbing, you can educate them about ice dams and debunk some common myths related to this winter nuisance.
Myth 1: Gutters Cause Ice Dams
What people may think: Gutters give ice dams an anchor to hold on to. Take off your gutters, no more dams!
The reality: Ice dams form when the temp gets above 32 degrees during the day, melting snow on the roof, and then drops again at night refreezing it. Several days of this pattern can cause water to work its way underneath the shingles and into the home through the attic.
Gutters can lead to larger ice dams because they provide a larger cold area for ice to refreeze, but even without gutters, ice dams can form. Take down a home’s gutters and the ability to keep water away from the foundation is lost, leading to major problems in the future. To prevent ice dams, advise your clients to clear their gutters before the first snowfall to prevent any water backup that can turn into ice in the colder months.
Myth 2: Shoveling Snow off the Edge of the Roof Prevents Ice Dams
What people may think: Ice dams won’t form on the edges of a roof if you remove the snow from that area.
The reality: Ice dams form wherever water refreezes, and it doesn’t take a lot of snow for an ice dam to form. Removing a one-foot strip of snow from the edge of the roof doesn’t do anything if it’s melting further up. Removing all the snow takes away a crucial ice dam ingredient. Roof rakes are more effective at removing snow from the roof, however, shoveling snow off the roof can be dangerous and should be avoided when possible.
Myth 3: Water Shield Membranes Will Prevent Ice Dams
What people may think: Replace your shingles with ones that have water shield membranes to shed water and keep ice dams from forming.
The reality: These products are not intended to prevent damage from standing water. They’re designed to cut down on problems with condensation under the shingles during the summer. Simply replacing old shingles won’t work either because it doesn’t stop backed-up water from entering the home. Replacing shingles won’t prevent ice dams.
Myth 4: You Can Prevent Ice Dams With Metal Edging
What people may think: Install a metal rim around your roof eaves to keep ice dams from forming.
The reality: On roofs with metal edging, an ice dam can break off, and then a new dam will form at or above the wall line. This can cause leaks and damage to shingles where the metal edging meets the roof and a home’s walls.
Myth 5: Ice Dams Are Caused by Solar Radiation
What people may think: There’s no point in sealing or insulating the attic, since sunlight on snow or a bare roof can cause ice dams.
The reality: It’s true, solar radiation during New England’s sunny and chilly winter days can contribute to snowmelt and ice dams. Inspecting a roof regularly ensures ice dams aren’t forming. But heat leaks from inside the house are a far more important factor. Installing quality insulation can keep heat from melting the snow on the roof. If your client’s house is up to code, the roof can take the weight.
Myth 6: Heating Cables in Gutters Help Prevent Ice Dams
What people may think: Install zig-zag cables on the roof or heating cables in your gutters to prevent ice dams.
The reality: Heating cables are great to use for making sure pipes don’t freeze, but they don’t do much to help prevent ice dams from forming in gutters. Zig-zag cables are not recommended for exceptionally cold or snowy climates. What ends up happening is the snow immediately surrounding the zig-zag cables melts but can then quickly turn to ice dams as it drips down the roof to areas with no heat.
Myth 7: Installing Insulation in the Roof Will Prevent Ice Dams
What people may think: Better ventilating the roof or adding more insulation will help prevent ice dams.
The reality: While proper insulation in the attic can help prevent ice dams from forming, it can never completely eradicate the problem. In some cases, adding too much insulation can decrease the efficiency of the material. Insulation can also lock moisture in, which may cause mold if left untreated for too long.
Ventilating the space can help cool a roof down and slow the process of ice dams forming. Failing to ventilate properly can cause unnecessary air leakage, which will only increase the number of ice dams that happen at a home.
Educating your clients about common ice dam myths can prevent issues. Make sure they know that installing insulation and ventilation and checking roofs regularly, they can prevent heat leakage into an attic and prevent ice dams from forming. Other ways they can heat homes effectively during the winter are checking for leaks and purchasing a smart thermostat. Contact an expert at Quaker Special Risk for more information on how to mitigate risks to personal property, especially from cold weather.