Ice Dams – what to do

Many homeowners may have ice dams forming on their roofs after all the snow we’ve had this winter. Once an ice dam forms, it is difficult to fix. The safest course is to hire a professional because of the dangers of falling snow and icicles, unsecured ladders, and possible damage to shingles and gutters.

If you choose to do the work yourself, take extreme care and follow these recommendations from contracting experts:
1. Use a roof rake to remove snow buildup from the roof.

a. AVOID USING A ROOF RAKE NEAR ANY ELECTRICAL WIRING!
b. DO NOT climb on a roof or work on a ladder beneath a roof that has lots of snow on it
c. Be especially careful on ladders; be sure the base is well secured.
2. Remove ice buildup around gutters by melting the ice with calcium chloride (other products such as rock salt will damage the roof shingles). For added effectiveness, put the melting agent inside a sock or nylon stocking, and lay perpendicular to the gutters or roof line. This creates a channel in the ice dam, releasing the melting agent slowly and allowing the water to drip to the ground through.
3. After applying a melting agent, if you must chip the ice, do so very carefully. NEVER strike your roof with an axe, hammer, or anything that will damage the shingles.

Warning signs: Aside from leaks, stains, and damaged ceilings or walls, there are several signs that ice dams are beginning to cause interior damage.
• Large icicles hanging from the gutters during cold-snaps following snow storms.
• A thick blanket of snow down slope of bare shingles points toward trouble.
• Water dripping from the roof over a layer of ice is a hint that a dam has formed.
Visit our website at www.agordon.com for a list of local contractors who are trained at removing ice dams safely and effectively. The cost to have ice dams removed from your home is usually less than your deductible!
For other tips on keeping the cost of your homeowner’s insurance low, visit www.agordon.com/home, or view our library of whiteboard presentations at www.agordon.com/whiteboards.

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