Tackling the Ice Dam Challenge
If your house roof is prone to ice dams (an icy buildup along the roof line marked by impressive icicles), you need more than a snow rake and a low insurance deductible. You need to get at the root of the problem.
Ice dams form when warm air from your home escapes through the roof, melting the accumulated snow. The resulting water runs down to the colder roof overhang and freezes. As that process continues and the dam enlarges, it can force water back up under shingles where it leaks down into the attic and wall cavities.
Water damage from ice dams is among the most common causes of property damage that insurers see. During the record-breaking snowy winter of 2015 in the northeast United States, the majority of insurance claims filed were linked to ice dams.
Getting up on an icy roof to prevent damage is “a wicked hazard,” according to John Atkinson, owner of Atkinson Builders on Mount Desert Island. But, he adds, if homeowners ignore the ice dam and water “leaks in and wrecks sheetrock, it’s a crisis.”
The best prevention for ice dams lies inside your home: stopping heat from escaping through the roof and setting off the thaw-freeze cycle there. Adding insulation and air-sealing (stopping air leaks) can break that cycle. Insulation and air-sealing can also deliver lower heating bills and greater comfort.
If you need to get your house weatherized, the spring is a good time to get started. Reach out to contractors and, Atkinson advises; “get on their ledger and locked in so it’s not a panic in the fall.”
Getting help with insulation and air-sealing is easy through the Efficiency Maine website, efficiencymaine.com, where you can find a registered vendor in your area who will schedule the work at your convenience.
Better still, Efficiency Maine offers financial incentives of up to $4,700 to improve your home’s insulation levels and seal air leaks. Those incentives typically cover up to about half the total project cost if comprehensive insulation and air sealing work is done.
If you need a loan to pay for weatherization, you can apply for a Home Energy Loan through Efficiency Maine, borrowing up to $15,000 over 10 years (with no fees and interest rates as low as 4.99 percent APR).