Stop Winter’s Attack on Your Roof

Home Insurance, Loss Prevention

Winter brings one of the worst enemies for your roof: ice dams.

These are continuous chunks of ice that form along the edges and in the valleys of your roof. While frozen, they’re no trouble. But during the warmer periods of a winter day, water melting off the roof pools behind the ice, then seeps back up under the shingles.  Eventually it drips through the roof into the soffits, walls, and worst of all, onto your ceilings. Here are some of the best ways to prevent ice dams.

Prevention best way to stop ice build-up

  • Rake the snow off the roof with a special aluminum roof rake made for roof angles.
  • Install heat cables in ice dam-prone valleys or other spots to prevent leaks.
  • Add special ice-and-water barrier next time you re-roof.

To prevent ice dams permanently, increase insulation in attics and possibly the roof rafters. The best way to do this is to chill your roof. That’s right – keep it cold.  Here’s how:

  • Close up attic bypasses. Heat loss is through the ceiling into the attic. And most of that loss comes from air leaks caused by unblocked walls, gaps in drywall, and cracks around light fixtures, plumbing pipes, chimneys, access hatches and other ceiling penetrations.
  • Measure your attic insulation level. Check the depth of your attic insulation. Building codes require about 12 to 14 in. of fiberglass or cellulose.
  • Add roof and soffit vents. Attic ventilation draws in cold outdoor air and flushes out warmer attic air, cooling the attic and the roof in the process. The minimum ventilation area (size of the openings) should be about 1 sq. ft. of vent per 300 sq. ft. of ceiling area (attic floor area).

Fighting with an existing dam?

Try placing ice melt or rock salt in an old sock or a paper bag and toss it onto the dam, allowing for drainage.

Your insurance coverage may include damage from ice damming. But it’s never enough to cover the time and aggravation of getting everything fixed.

Remember! Whenever you make your home more airtight, check your combustion appliances (gas, oil or propane-fired water heaters, furnaces, etc.) for back-drafting. Appliances that don’t draft properly can seep waste gases, including potentially deadly carbon monoxide, into your home.

Ask your Broker about having one of Grenville Mutual’s Risk Assessment specialists visit to identify hazards and prevent potential losses for your home.