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Ice Damming, is this worthy of an insurance claim

ice damming in gutter
Radiating heat will thaw the growing ice sheet and cause water to drip onto the ceiling or floor system and down & within the outside wall affecting the framing, insulation, sheetrock, windows, doors, electrical wiring, etc.

Ice Damming, is this worthy of an insurance claim? First, let’s understand what is occurring with an ice dam. Your typical ice dam will occur when the underside of a sloped roofs snow layer melts from the radiating heat within a structure below. That melted snow (water) will run down the roof shingles to the lowest portion of the roof, typically the uninsulated, unheated roof overhang and into a gutter or off the roof. During times of extreme cold, that water runoff will rapidly freeze at the overhang, before it exits into the gutter and forms into a growing block or dam of ice. The ice dam allows more runoff to collect and rapidly freeze into a sheet of ice that will continue to grow & expand back up the roof. The ice will grow under the roof shingles & even under the membrane below the shingles, which is typically called felt paper or tar paper on older roofs. Once the growing ice sheet grows high enough to reach the outside wall of the house, the radiating heat below will thaw the growing ice sheet and cause water to drip onto the ceiling or floor system and down & within the outside wall affecting the framing, insulation, sheetrock, windows, doors, electrical wiring, etc. This leak could be the entire length of the exterior walls, 30-50 feet or more.

mold behind kitchen cabinets
Ice dam leaks occur often in kitchen areas. When this occurs, the wall cabinets, base cabinets, countertops & backsplashes need to be removed to access the wet walls behind them.

Ice damming is a serious condition that can result in hazardous mold & expensive repairs

Ice damming is a serious condition that will need to be addressed ASAP, especially with the likely trapped water and moisture within exterior walls, ceiling & roof systems. The trapped moisture can and will cause hazardous, unseen, harmful mold to grow if left unaddressed. Water infiltrating electrical devices within these hidden cavities is another major concern that should be investigated and dealt with. An experienced water damage restoration contractor will seek out the trapped moisture with a host of specialized tools including, non-invasive moisture meters, thermal imaging cameras, invasive moisture probes to check for wet insulation. Once insulation gets wet, it won’t dry out naturally and will need to be physically removed. Sadly, the proper way to mitigate this condition is to strip the walls down to the studs to expose the wet framing members & exterior wall/roof sheathing. The wall, ceiling & roof cavities can be dried with air moving equipment coupled with industrial strength dehumidifiers. Exposing the hidden cavities also gives access to the potentially compromised electrical connections for inspection & replacement, if needed.

To make matters even worse, these ice dam leaks occur often in kitchens areas that have cabinet runs on the exterior walls. When this occurs, the wall cabinets, base cabinets, countertops & backsplashes typically need to be removed to access the wet walls behind them. This will make living in the dwelling during the cleanup & repairs extra challenging for inhabitants.

File a claim

gutter damageBased on our field experience in dealing with these situations and the snowballing costs to not only properly mitigate & cleanup the damages but coupled with the repair costs to replace the demolished items, it really is a “no brainer” to file a claim. Stopping the ice dam causing the leak is tricky and not likely covered by your insurance policy. That work should be done before you mitigate & should be done by a competent roofer with the use of a more modern roof membrane called “rain & ice shield”. Newer roofs should already have this membrane and if installed correctly should prevent a leak from an ice dam. Stopping an ice dam from even occurring is another ball of wax that would require a more exotic intervention such as heating the roof overhang with heating elements, which is rarely done and likely very costly to install.

If you see water stains or dripping water in many locations along an exterior wall or floor / ceiling at an exterior wall, suspect an ice damn & call a water damage restoration contractor for an immediate assessment. Early intervention can help minimize the damage which will minimize the overall amount of needed demolition, disruption & cost to you.

We hope you found this information helpful. If interested in viewing more damage restoration information please visit our blog at https://truerestorations.com/blog/
The True Restorations Team

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