Educating each client we serve – Important information about Ice Dams.

By: Denise Koslowsky


To say it has been cold is an understatement.  With temperatures falling below 32 degrees for the last week of December and looking to remain there the entire first week of January, it’s been the kind of weather that urges us to stay inside with a hot cup of coffee.  Looking ahead to the forecast for the rest of the month, with temperatures creeping above the freezing mark and then dipping back down again, it is important that we discuss an important topic.  Ice Dams.

An ice dam is a solid formation of ice at the edge of your roof (sometimes they take the form of icicles but sometimes ice dams are present when icicles are not). This ice formation creates a barrier that prevents melting snow from running off your roof, into your gutter system and safely away from the foundation of your home.


When an ice dam forms it can rip your gutters off, loosen your shingles and cause leaks
in your attic and walls.

If you are wondering how this can happen, and what you can do about it, keep reading…


An ice dam forms when the heat from inside your home rises to your attic and warms the underside of the roof (this is a natural process).  This melts the snow on the roof but as the melting snow begins to run off the roof and reaches the eaves (that is the part of your roof that extends beyond the walls), the snow refreezes creating a thick layer of ice which forms…an ice dam.


So now you have a thick ice barrier that takes a long time to melt and the snow that is sitting on your roof has nowhere to go when it melts.  This creates a back up that can loosen shingles, soak attic insulation and seep into walls.  The ice dam itself can be heavy and the pressure created can rip your gutters off which can lead to structural damage of your home.


In order to keep ice dams from happening in the first place, you need to try to keep the attic cool so there is less thawing and refreezing on your roof.  Insulating the attic floor can help to minimize the amount of heat that rises to your roof.  You can also keep the attic ventilated so that the cold air outside can circulate and reduce the overall temperature in your attic.

While you can remove snow from your roof to prevent ice dams, we strongly urge you to consider your personal safety first.  If you cannot safely reach the snow, don’t try to remove it!  If you feel you can do some snow removal on your own and remain unharmed, you might find the following dos and don’ts of snow removal helpful:

  • With a flat or low sloping roof, DO use a push broom to remove snow.
  • DON’T try to chip or break up the ice dam.
  • With a sloped roof, DO stand on the ground and use a roof rake to remove the snow.
  • DON’T use a snow blower or shovel to remove the snow.
  • DO contact a professional to come and remove the snow for you.
  • DON’T attempt snow removal if it will push against the grain of the roof shingles.
  • DO what you can to ventilate your attic.


Any information we can provide to help you prevent ice dams from causing harm to your home is important to us at Advocate Brokerage. Educating each client we serve, that’s what it means to be insurance specialists.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding ice dams, the damage they can cause your home or specifics as they relate to your homeowners insurance, we encourage you to give us a call.

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