Ice Dam Damage

By Robert Robillard on Home Repairs And Remodeling

Removing Ice damsIce Dam Damage Control

Ice dam damage is not only costly it can become a health problem if the leak continues and mold grows.

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. Figure 1 shows a cross section of a home with an ice dam.  This article will address how to prevent ice dams.

How Ice Dams Form

Ice dams form when there is snow on the roof and freezing temperatures.

Ice dams usually occur after a heavy snowfall and several days of freezing temperatures. Warm air inside your home leaks into the attic and will warm the underside of the roof causing snow and ice on the roof to melt.

The most likely causes of ice dams are due to heat loss, air leakage and the general warming of the house structure due to conduction from the heated building.


How To Prevent Ice Dams

The melted water will drain along the roof, under the snow, until it reaches the cold overhang. The overhang tends to be at the same temperature [below 32 degrees] as the outdoors and the melted water will refreeze and form an ice dam and icicles. The ice dam can cause damage to the roof, which will result in water leaks to the inside.

The water back ups and finds cracks and openings in the roofing and then flows into the house. The result is water spots or dripping water on the ceiling under the roofing, resulting in ice dam damage inside the home.

How To Prevent Ice Dams

Immediate action:

1. Remove snow from the roof. This eliminates one of the ingredients necessary for the formation of an ice dam. A “roof rake” can be used to remove snow.

2. In an emergency situation where water is flowing into the house structure, making channels through the ice dam allows the water behind the dam to drain off the roof. Snow melt can also be used to facilitate these channels. DO NOT walk on any snow covered roofs!

Read my article removing ice dams

Insurance Claims:

Many folks do not realize they can make a claim for water damage.  The question to ask; does it make sense to make the claim or just fix the issue?

To make a claim you need to contact your insurance provider and speak with the adjuster, be prepared to provide:

  1. Photos of the damaged area claimed.
  2. A written estimate, from a contractor, for the repairs needed.  Estimates should include a description of the work needed, and a breakdown of the costs by materials and labor.
  3. Materials should be those of the same like, kind and quality of those being repaired.
  4. If contents damage is being claimed, photos of the damaged property should be provided as well.  Provide them with the replacement costs for each item claimed.  A description should be provided and include; make/model, size, material and what the item is.
  5. If you find evidence of mold they will want you to contact them immediately and most likely will assign an adjuster to inspect the site to assist you in moving your claim forward. You will have to look at your homeowners insurance to see if it will cover mold.   Be careful, a mold claim can have a permanent effect on your ability to get insurance later.

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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