New Englanders may face ice dam woes after historic snowfall

Mother Nature’s been relentless this winter – testing both our will and patience in New England. Although this week we were spared a large snowstorm, the almost seven feet of snow we already have in the Boston area means roofing woes remain for most. So while we are continuing to dig out, it’s important to be cognizant of the snow sitting on your roof.icicles

If you notice icicles hanging from your roof, water dripping from the roof overhang, or interior leaks or new stains on your ceilings, it’s likely an ice dam has formed. Ice dams are caused by snow on your roof that melts and then refreezes in the overhang, creating a blockage in the gutter and preventing proper drainage. Ice dams’ damage can be costly, so if you suspect one on your roof, it’s important to address it right away.

Of course, the best way to treat ice dams is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. However, prevention methods are more long term solutions and should be completed before winter’s onset to be most effective. Check out this blog post to learn more about prevention techniques.

So in the meantime, consider the following when dealing with ice dams:

  • After a snowstorm, hire a professional. This is the safest way to remove snow from your roof because professionals will have ample experience and proper equipment
  • However, if you wish to remove the snow yourself, remember to:
    • Use a roof rake safely – other tools could damage your shingles
    • Avoid standing underneath icicles or roofs with large amounts of snow
    • Be very careful when climbing ladders because rungs can be slippery with snow and ice on them
    • Don’t use a roof rake near electrical wires
    • Have someone nearby to check on you in case you need help or are injured
    • Create a channel in the ice dam by filling a large sock with calcium chloride and laying it across the dam, perpendicular to the gutter. The sock will gradually release the calcium chloride – a melting agent – and create a channel in the ice for water to flow through. You might need several socks for an ice dam that runs the length of your roof

If it reaches the point that an ice dam has formed and water begins leaking inside your home, collect the dripping water in buckets and pans. Mop up any standing water and remember to move any furniture, clothes and other valuables out of harm’s way. It’s also imperative that you promptly call a professional who can properly remove the ice dam and treat the damage.

Ice dams can be costly to both your home and wallet, so while we trudge through this never-ending winter, be on the lookout for warning signs that one may be forming (or has formed) and address it as soon as possible.

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.