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150 Lower Westfield Road
Holyoke, MA 01040


23Jan. 2018

Preventing The Dreaded Ice Dam

With winter here, ice dams are a very real problem for Massachusetts homeowners. An ice dam is a continuous chunk of ice that’s formed around the edge of your roof. By itself, it’s not too bad. The problems for homeowners - and your insurance premiums - occur once the snow or ice on your roof begin to melt. Ice dams prevent water from moving away from your roof, backing it up until the excess water seeps under your shingles where it causes leaks, damages drywall, and causes massive damage to your home.

Prevent ice dams and the damage they cause before they can start with these tips, tricks, and techniques.

Keep Your Roof Colder

In winter, when ice dams are a possibility, a cold roof is a happy roof. All it takes is one warm spot of melted snow to create a water problem. Help prevent the melting in the first place by reducing the amount of hot air that escapes from your attic and roof.

  • Close up attic bypasses by sealing unblocked walls, cracks around plumbing, pipes, light fixtures, and chimneys.

  • Replace light fixtures with sealed light cans which can be surrounded by insulation.

  • Add more insulation to your attic. Building standards require between 12 and 14 inches. Add more to your home once you reach about eight inches of insulation. Having it blown in is better than rolling the insulation by hand, but more is better, however you apply it.

  • Ventilate your attic and roof by installing roof soffits. Doing this will draw in cold air from outside and flush warm air out, keeping your roof cooler all winter long.

  • Seal your attic hatch or whole-house fan by covering them with weather-stripped caps.

  • Seal and insulate your ductwork.

Other Ways to Prevent Ice Dams

Keeping your attic sealed and insulated isn’t always an option for homeowners. Here are other things you can do.

  • Add a special adhesive ice-and-water barrier to your roof during your next re-roofing. It’s not cost effective to tear up a good roof and add the adhesive but if you’re having the work done, make this an extra step in the process.

  • Rake snow off your roof with a snow rake. This is only recommended for single story homes. Don’t try this on a two or more story home as it can be very dangerous.

  • Install heat cables along the edge of your roof to prevent ice dams from forming in the first place. You’ll also need to run the cable down your gutter downspout to avoid clogging it with ice. Make sure you re-route the melted water to prevent it from freezing in your gutters and along the edge of your roof.

  • Make sure the exhausts from your kitchen, bathroom, and dryer don’t run through your soffits but through the walls or your roof.

In a cold Massachusetts winter, ice happens. Much of the damage occurs once the ice melts and water has no place to go. With these tips you can prevent ice dams from forming or reduce the harmful effects of melted water once the temperature creeps up.

While your insurance may cover the damage, no one wants to pay the higher premiums later. Consider these projects a form of insurance against problems in the future. If your homeowner’s insurance has gone up for any reason, contact us at Ross Insurance so we can get you an estimate for coverage that protects what matters most at a better price.


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