Ice Dams and Homeowners Insruance

For us New Englanders, shoveling driveways and digging out plowed-in cars are considered winter wonderland’s norms.  While we have escaped the storms so far this season, winter has only just begun.  Therefore, it is important to make sure you and your family are protected from potential ice dams before the snowflakes start falling.

What are ice dams, and what damage can they cause to your home?

When snow melts and then refreezes at the edge of your roof, it creates a dam.  This causes water to back up and leak into the home, ruining walls, ceilings and insulation.  As if this damage isn’t costly enough, the moisture from the dams can lead to mold growth and mildew, endangering your family’s health.

Fortunately, most homeowners insurance companies cover damage related to ice dams.  However, long-term prevention of ice dams can save you the trouble of filing a claim and dealing with the damage every year.  You can do this in the following ways:

Better insulation: Insulate your attic separately from the rest your house to keep heat from escaping.  Also, identify and seal off sources of potential heat leakage, such as vents, furnaces, electrical outlets and light fixtures.

Improved ventilation: Proper roof ventilation allows for heat to escape through vents in the attic without warming the roof deck and creating ice dams.  Ensure your roof is adequately ventilated to prevent ice dams from forming.

Roof protection: Apply underlayments to your roof—products that create watertight seals between your roof’s edge and the shingles.  While this may not stop the ice from damming, it will prevent or minimize damage.

Heated cables: Install heated cables to your roof to melt the dams.  However, if the snowpack gets too heavy, the melted water can pool and still leak into the home.

Advance preparation: Clear debris and leaves out of your gutter before the snow falls.  This is the first step to ice dam prevention.  Also, watch for water leakage or mold in your attic, and alert your home insurance company so the damage can be taken care of before it worsens.

We at Penny-Hanley are here to answer any of your questions regarding your insurance policy so don’t hesitate to call us at 860 684 2721 or visit our website for more information and stay warm and dry.

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