The Ice Dam Cometh: Insurance Coverage and Solutions For Roof Damage

by Rich Vetstein on February 10, 2015 · 7 comments

in Insurance, Safety

ice-dam-2As we shovel out from the snowiest winter in history, the Greater Boston area will soon be facing a new and potentially more destructive situation — ice dams and roof collapses. This could be the worst winter ever for ice dams and roof issues due to the ridiculous amount of snow still stuck on our roofs. I’ll take a minute to go over the insurance issues and preventative measures you should be taking now.

Ice Dam Insurance Coverage – Massachusetts

Interior or exterior damage caused by an ice dam on your roof is typically covered by standard homeowner’s insurance policies. However, most policies will not cover ice dam or snow removal from your roof or anywhere else on your property. As with any insurance claim, call the claims department immediately and take photos of the damage.

Ice Dam Treatment & Prevention

The best way to deal with ice dams is to physically remove them from your roof. I’m not a fan of homeowners putting their spinal cords at risk by hopping on snow covered roofs, so my advice is to leave this to the professionals. Crews are out in full force clearing snow and chipping away at ice dams. Feel free to call my friend George Lonergan of Lonergan Construction in Framingham (Tel:  508-875-0052). Tell them Rich Vetstein sent you. Also, be aware of price gouging and scams.

In the short term, there are a couple things you can try.

  1. Try to remove snow from the roof but only if it can be done safely. A roof rake or push broom can be used but may cause damage to the shingles. There is an amazing new type of roof rake on the market called a Roof Razor which can be purchased here. If it’s not possible to remove the snow safely, call a professional like I did.
  2. Chisel grooves into the dam to allow the water behind it to drain off. This is a good emergency measure, especially if rain or a sudden thaw is coming. Be careful not to damage those shingles!
  3. Don’t laugh, but fill an old pair of your wife’s pantyhose with calcium chloride snow melt and lay it across the dam. I’m not kidding! It will help to melt the dam and also keep that area of the roof clear. DO NOT USE ROCK SALT! It will stain the roof and siding. It is best for small dams or prevention. It’s also a good idea to scrape the snow off the roof first.
  4. There are also ice melting pucks you can use. You can get them at Home Depot.

To prevent ice dams in the longer term, keeping warm air from escaping into the attic is the first course of action. More insulation and new shingles are a start.

Good luck with your roof!

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