Hopefully we’re through most of the snow for this winter, and before we move into spring, you’ll want to make sure you’ve identified and repaired any problems caused by all the snow. Some damage from the snow is obvious, but a lot of things aren’t really visible until you go searching to find how far the water damage from ice dams has traveled.
We’re going to focus on your roof in this article. The tips shared here are equally applicable to potential problems with pipes freezing, flooding and other exterior spots that are vulnerable to snow and freezing water.
You’ve already been through a lot of stress living through clearing snow, opening channels on your roof to let the water flow off to minimize damage from ice dams and more. That’s why we want to give you this simple checklist to follow, to help you work through all the tasks necessary to make repairs and avoid a repeat of the problems you just had.
After the Blizzard, Assessing the Damage from Ice Dams
You know you had icicles hanging off your roof, and you’ve heard that these are a warning sign that you could have had ice dams. That’s right, and neither the icicles or the ice dams themselves will cause much damage. The damage from ice dams occurs when it traps water on your roof and that water finds ways to get under the shingles and into your house.
So first we’re going to give you an overview of the most common (not all) problems that need to be assessed, to make sure they’re all identified and repaired quickly.
- Roofing shingles – may be damaged due to water trapped underneath shingles, freezing and expanding.
- Roof deck – under the shingles is subject to wood rot if any moisture remains trapped between the underlayment and the plywood underneath.
- Gutters – may be affected by the weight of the icicles and ice dams.
- Roof framing (interior) – that is subject to roof leaks because the water flows down it, can also begin to rot and lose some of it’s structural integrity. In an unfinished attic, you should see black lines showing the path the water traveled down.
- Insulation – that gets wet has to be replaced as it can no longer perform it’s insulation role. This insulation can be on the floor of your attic. It can also be in the exterior walls of your house, where the water has traveled down.
- Electrical problems – can result from water too. Recessed lights in ceilings that aren’t sealed may get wet. Wall switches and outlets on walls with water damage may also need to be replaced.
- Drywall – is the next layer of material, ceilings and walls, to absorb water from roof leaks caused by ice dams.
- Painting – will also be required when dealing with stains to drywall. This can get tricky with open floor plans or long hallways that extend into a stairwell.
Getting Help Assessing the Damage from Ice Dams
Yes, you need some temporary repairs to minimize how much water gets into your house. But you want to do some research before the insurance adjuster arrives, to make sure they include all the necessary repairs.
Don’t guess as to what’s covered by your homeowners insurance, or not. Find your policy and talk to your insurance agent if you’re not sure how to interpret something. Most damage that’s caused by weather issues like winter storms is covered. The bigger challenge is making sure that all the damage is identified up front, as it’s trickier to claim more damage once repairs have started.
- Take photos of the damage right away. But don’t do anything that isn’t safe, like climb a ladder that’s not secure – ask a neighbor if you can take photographs from their second story. Find before photos to show the insurance adjuster.
- Make temporary repairs to prevent additional damage. For example, close up openings that could allow more water into your home, and use fans to get rid of water/moisture, to prevent mold from growing.
- Get estimates from several contractors and build your list of problems/repairs by combining all of them. Use these meetings to prepare for your meeting with the insurance adjuster.
- Wait before making pricey repairs, so the insurance adjuster to see as much damage as possible. You also need time to look for solutions that will prevent the same problem from happening again.
Make sure to read our next article, Preventing Ice Dams at Their Source, to avoid a repeat of the problems you’re fixing here.
Photo credit: Thanks to MosbyBuildingArts.com, for their great illustration of the layers that make up a roof.