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Ice Dams – Icicles on the house are pretty but they can be a sign of trouble headed your way!

While the warm up of temperatures is truly welcomed and deserved after lasts weeks frigid temperatures, the extreme change can cause ice dams to form on your roof. A sign that you may incur an ice dam are the pretty icicles hanging from your house. While they look beautiful, they can also be an indication of some serious havoc headed your way.

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas.

An ice dam forms when the roof over an attic gets warm enough to melt the underside of the layer of snow on the roof. The water trickles down between the layer of snow and the shingles until it reaches the eave of the roof, which stays cold because it extends beyond the side of the house. There, the water freezes, gradually growing into a mound of ice.

The Michigan State Police Winter Emergency Preparedness Topics includes Preventing Roof Ice Dams:

There’s no way to guarantee an ice dam will not damage your home, but you can reduce the likelihood of an ice dam forming in the first place:

  • Thoroughly clean all leaves, sticks, and other debris from rain gutters and down spouts. This allows melting roof snow to flow into gutters and through down spouts.
  • Strive to keep snow on your roof to a minimum. Long-handled devices called “roof rakes” let you stand on the ground and pull the snow off the roof. Keeping heavy snow loads off your roof reduces the chances for both ice dam formation and roof failure due to the weight.
  • Keep gutters and down spouts clear of snow and icicles all winter.
  • Evaluate the insulation and ventilation in your attic. Attic insulation should have an R-value of at least R-30 (R-38 is preferable in northern climates). In addition, good airflow from under the eaves or soffit area along the underside of the roof and out through the roof vents is essential. The insulation prevents heat loss from the interior of the home. The venting allows the attic air to stay cold enough to prevent or minimize the freeze/thaw cycle on the roof. Consult a reputable roofing and/or insulation contractor about these improvements.

The resulting damage of an ice dam may be covered by your home insurance, subject to your policy deductible, however, preventative measures are not.  As a homeowner you are responsible for maintaining your home, taking the above precautions is your responsibility.

For more information or questions about your home policy coverages please contact us at 231-347-8113.