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Preventing Ice Dams – November/December 2012
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Minnesota Community Living November/December 2012

From the President
By Traci Lehman

Coordinating Your HO-6 Insurace

Ask the Attorney
By Nigel H. Mendez

Self-Managed Associations: From Piles of Paper to Polished and Professional
By Max Egelston

Let's Stay Prepared!
By Gene Sullivan

Preventing Ice Dams
By Peter King

Successful Homeowner Association Non-Executive Regular Board Meetings
By Rich Klobuchar

Preventing Ice Dams

Back to Index
By Peter King

inter is fast approaching and with it the prospect of roof damage due to ice buildup and snow. For many owners, managers and associations, this turns into a big headache. While thousands of dollars of insurance claims make it through the system each season due to structural and water damage caused by ice buildup around eaves, overhangs, gutters and underneath asphalt shingles, there is an opportunity to avoid much of this seasonal headache: Be proactive and take steps to prevent it before it happens.

Let’s first talk about what an ice dam is: Anyone who lives in regions that experi- ence snowy weather during the cold winter months may know all too well what ice dams are. Ice dams are thick layers of ice that form on the eaves of houses. These ice formations are known to cause expensive structural damages such as water leakage, which can lead to water stains on your ceiling, a buildup of mold, plaster damage, paint damage, and drywall damage. Additionally, ice dams can also loosen roof shingles, which means out-of-pocket expenses needed to replace shingles and repair the roof and other structural damages your home incurs.

What causes an ice dam? Heavy snowfall creates an accumulation of snow on the eaves of a slanted roof. If the attic and roof of your home lack proper insulation, warm air seeps out and melts the snow, which in turn creates melt water. The melted water runs down the length of the roof, eventually creating ice dams on the eaves and guttering of the house. The eaves and guttering of homes typically lack insulation and warming techniques, allowing ice to build on these colder areas. These ice dams prevent snow from melting off a roof sufficiently enough.

Insufficient snow melt is what eventually causes water damage to the home. The ice dam acts as a barrier so the snow that accumulates on the roof of a home will eventually cause roof and other structural damage. These ice dams can worsen over time if left untreated. Continued melt off from new snow falls can actually add to the ice dams, making them larger and more troublesome. Thankfully, you can hire trained professionals to remove ice dams for you. These trained professionals have specialized steam equipment so they can quickly, easily, and safely remove these ice formations, allowing the proper flow of melt water from your roof.

How to prevent ice dams? Clearly, adequate insulation and proper ventilation are key in preventing ice dams from forming in the first place. As long as we can find a way to keep the warm air inside the house, and stop it from leaking into the attic, we can stop the ice dams from happening.

There are many ways to remove the ice build-up if it has already occurred. You can have a qualified company come and shovel or steam the ice off. You should never handle these yourself as it can be very dangerous. Installing a roof ice melt system (by a qualified installer) will prevent future ice dams from happening. So take the time now and call a qualified contractor to either do the repairs needed or install a roof ice melt system before the snow is upon us.

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