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Ice dams are particularly challenging in Chicagoland because of winter’s excessive freeze/thaw cycle. Afternoon warmth transforms ice and snow into water. As night falls, those puddles turn into ice dams that build up underneath your shingles.

Local insurance companies often receive more claims for frozen pipes and shingles than any other form of winter damage. This common problem can destroy not only your roof but your siding and interior as well.

How To Prevent Ice Dams

Ice dams form wherever trapped water and freezing weather coexist. As warm air escapes your attic, fallen snow melts and drains via your gutters. If your drainage system isn’t functioning as it should, ice dams are likely to occur. Poor vent and access panel insulation is often the culprit.

To prevent ice dams, you need to target the root issue. The entire roof should remain the same temperature as the eaves, the edges of your roof where ice dams can form. You can achieve this by:

  • Increasing ventilation
  • Adding attic insulation
  • Maintaining your gutters
  • Sealing off all air leaks

If you already have ice dams, we do not recommend breaking off the ice as this only worsens the issue. Instead, create channels in the ice dams to encourage proper drainage as they melt.

Signs of Ice Damming

Just because you have ice dams does not mean you necessarily have roof damage. A roof repair professional can help you remove ice dams safely so your home stays protected.

Signs you have ice dams include:

1. Icicles

Icicles are often the first sign of a problem. Like ice dams, they build up when gutters become full.

When melting water lacks an outlet, it occupies the first inch of real estate it can find — and that’s usually your roof. Discolored icicles tend to emerge from your attic, so don’t assume that empty gutters are a positive sign.

2. Melted Snow

Look for inconsistent melting patterns on top of your roof, paying special attention to mounds of ice along the edge of your roof.

Ice dams tend to form when snow melts at the highest point of your home, so if you see snow and ice buildup along your eaves, call a roof repair professional.

3. Poor Drainage

Ice dams can prevent your gutters from draining, so if you see water backing up on your roof, don’t give it the chance to refreeze.

The sooner you call a contractor, the more damage you can prevent. Running hot water over the ice is a temporary fix, but a heat cable will provide a permanent cure.

4. Hot Spots

When warmth escapes your home, it can form hot spots that present as bare patches on your roof with no snow or ice. These are particularly common around vents and skylights.

5. Water Stains

Your home isn’t built to withstand long-term water exposure, so water stains on your ceilings or walls are signs that ice dams have progressed to the point of damaging your home and need immediate attention from a professional.

GME Can Help You Submit Insurance Claims for Roof Repair

Homeowners insurance often cites coverage for damage caused by the “weight of ice and snow.” Ice damage isn’t explicitly mentioned, but you might still be able to gain coverage. If your ice dam causes your roof to collapse, the weight specification should cover both the repair of your roof and the replacement of damaged possessions.

As Chicagoland roofing specialists with 20 years of industry experience, the team at Greater Midwest Exteriors knows our way around insurance policies and roof repair. We can walk you through the claims process and help you capture an accurate record of the damages quickly and safely.

Experience the GME difference by calling 630-463-7663 or contacting us online!

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