Preventing Ice Dams and Roof Collapse

With the frequent snowstorms, we have received calls from homeowners regarding ice dams
and also from businesses regarding the accumulation of snow on business rooftops.

Ice dams occur when ice builds up along the eaves of a roof. Snow and ice melt off the main part of the roof and re-freeze when they reach the eaves. This happens because the eaves (overhangs at the edge of the roof) tend to be colder than the rest of the roof. If the ice dam grows large enough, it may prevent water from draining off the roof. Water can then back up underneath the roof shingles and make its way inside the home.

Although ice dams can cause water leakage inside a home, they do not typically damage the roof itself.  
The typical homeowners policy covers the resulting water damage to the interior of the home, but does not cover the cost to remove snow and ice from the roof.
Roof collapse and/or damagecan occur when excessive snow accumulates on a roof. The potential for roof collapse or structural damage increases as the weight of accumulated snow and ice exceeds the snow load capacity of the roof. Rain falling on accumulated snow is especially dangerous because snow-covered roofs don’t drain well and accumulating water and ice can quickly exceed the design limits of the roof. 
Steps you can take to help prevent damage from ice dams and roof overload:  

  • Monitor snow accumulation on your roof.
  • Contacting a licensed contractor to have snow and ice cleared off the roof before it accumulates to 50% of the snow load capacity of the roof is the best way to prevent roof collapse from overload.
  • Having snow and ice removed before it melts is the best way to prevent ice dams from forming.  A contractor may use a roof rake to remove snow from the edges of the roof where ice dams occur.
  • We do not recommend clients attempt to clear snow and ice from their roofs themselves.
  • Make sure to shovel around downspouts so that your gutters can drain freely. This will help prevent ice buildup in gutters.

Properly insulating and ventilating your attic will help reduce the chances of snow melting on the roof and re-freezing at the eaves. 

If you suspect damage has occurred as a result of an ice dam or excessive snow build up on your roof, contact the McSweeney & Ricci Claims Department
as soon as possible. 
Our claims professionals can provide you with tips for preventing further damage.

If you’ve already contacted a licensed and insured contractor to help with emergency repairs, be sure to document any expenses so they can be considered for reimbursement.

The following resources can help you stay safe:
Tips to Help Remove an Ice Dam
Removing Snow From Your Roof
How to Shovel Snow Safely
Winter Driving Safety Tips






McSweeney & Ricci Insurance Agency, Inc.
42R Mattakeesett St., Unit A
Pembroke, MA 02359
Phone: (781) 293-2417
Fax: (781) 843-8807

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