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Icicle From Heat Loss

Ice Damming Could Lead to Expensive Damage to Your Home

Energy costs in Ontario are rising, that should come of no surprise, so we need to utilize our energy consumption more effectively. A good place to start is sealing cracks and drafts around your doors and windows to make your home more energy efficient. But have you considered the financial impact of heat loss through your ceilings? While drafts around doors and windows will cost a few more dollars in heating bills, heat loss through your roof can result in thousands of dollars in damage due to ice damming.

Ice dams are hardly a new concern, but its something that every home owner should be aware of. A statement released in 2014 by the Insurance Information Institute in the United States pointed out that water damage and freezing account for almost 22% of all home owners insurance claims. The average claim amounts were $4,024 (US). These statistics are hardly isolated to the United States, Saskatchewan, for example, reported 2,600 ice dam claims that same year.

What exactly is an ice claim though? It happens when snow on your roof begins to melt and freezes before it has a chance to run off. Usually, this is caused by warm air leaking from your house into your attic. The warm air heats the roof’s surface and causes the snow to melt. As the water runs down your roof, it freezes near the roof’s edge and an ice dam starts to form. This process repeats itself a few times and eventually creates a dam made of ice that prevents water from draining away. Inevitably, this water backs up under the shingles and into your home.

The key to preventing ice dams is to make sure your attic is properly insulated so that the warm air stays in your home and the cold air in your attic. Experts recommend having a minimum of 8 inches of R20 insulation on your attic floor. However, insulation alone may not prevent ice damming. Heat that escapes from light or ceiling fixtures, attic access hatches, exhaust fan systems, chimneys or other perforations in your ceiling can increase the risk of damming.

Main Causes of ice damming
  • Weather
  • Household heat escaping into the attic
  • Uneven roof temperatures
  • Roofing materials that water can penetrate
how to prevent ice damming

The fall season is a good time to think about roof insulation, ventilation, and the quality of your waterproofing. If for example, you noticed last winter that your roof had a considerable amount of ice build up or icicles forming, you may want to consider the following preventative measures:

  • Insure that you attic is adequately insulated
  • From the inside of the home, seal any perforations in the ceiling
  • Ensure your soffit vents are not blocked by insulation
  • Take measures to draw more air into the attic through the gable and eave vents
  • If you are installing a new roof, have the contractor install roof felt or install heating cables as an intern measure
  • Finally, if you suspect your home is susceptible to ice damming, you can always call a qualified contractor

If ice damming does occur at your home, and you’re an HMS client, we want to know about it. Give us a call as soon as possible so we can arrange for a local contractor or restoration company to begin repairs. With any water claim time is the most important factor.