Snow on rooftops and near the eaves can pose a risk of damages to Massachusetts homeowners. While some snow on your roof should not create a problem, a good rule of thumb is if there is more than a foot of heavy, wet snow and ice, you should try to have it removed.
Consider clearing the first three feet of snow closest to the gutters or eaves of your roof in order to reduce the risk of ice dams. Cleaning and clearing your roof can be a dangerous task. Always put safety first. If you have any doubt, call a professional. As your independent insurance agent, we recommend that you check references and be certain that your contractor is insured and bonded. Depending on the type of roof, there are different methods of added protection from snow driven damage.
Flat Roof – You may want to shovel the snow off the roof to prevent the weight of the snow from becoming too great. Be sure to take extra care not to damage the roof in the process.
Sloped Roof – Depending on the height, it may be possible to remove the snow and ice using a roof rake. A roof rake is designed with an extra long handle specifically for the purpose of roof snow removal from a safe distance and with both feet on the ground.
What is an ice dam? An ice dam is created from the accumulation of ice at the lower edge of the roof. Ice dams often form at the gutter. As the snow on your roof melts from warm daytime temperatures or from the interior heat of your house, water then runs down. It then can potentially refreeze at the roof’s edge once exposed again to cold air or lower evening temperatures. Through this process of melting and refreezing, ice can build, blocking water from draining properly and thus creating the onset of an ice dam. The water may then be forced under the roof covering and into the attic or down the interior walls. Once ice dams form, the potential damage which can result can be quite costly. Ice dams can damage not only the roof and gutters, but trusses, and interior walls and ceilings.
What are the signs of an ice dam? The first signs are oftentimes along the gutters when they become overloaded with ice and icicles forms. The excess weight of the ice can sometimes pull the gutter away from the house, bend or completely break the gutter. Once the water begins to build up behind the ice dam, it can then back up under the roof shingles, working its way through the underlying materials and around the roofing nails and eventually could work its way to interior spaces.
What are some immediate steps I can take to prevent an ice dam? Consider removing snow from your roof after ever storm. Additionally, you can help snow and ice drain off your roof by keeping downspouts clear.
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