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Understanding and Preventing Roof Ice Dams

Understanding and Preventing Roof Ice Dams
While some may feel ice dams are inevitable, there are actually numerous concrete steps you can take to limit or even eliminate ice dam formation on your home's eaves. Understanding how and why ice dams form and learning the available methods for preventing them will allow you to choose the method that works best for you.

Removing Ice Dams From Your Roof

Removing Ice Dams From Your Roof

Removing Ice Dams From Your Roof

Icicles hanging from the eaves of your roof during winter may be a quaint and pretty sight, but they can also be a sign of a major hazard: ice dams.

An ice dam is as an accumulation of ice in thick ridges on the eaves of your roof that can block gutters and prevent water from properly draining off. This wintertime nuisance can result in torn-off gutters or damaged shingles, and can cause water to back up and leak into your house, possibly resulting in damaged, stained ceilings and ruined paint. Worse, a leak can cause wet insulation that attracts mold and mildew.

Ice dams form as a result of warm air inside your home rising and heating the roof. As the heated air rises, melted snow run-off drains down the slope of the roof to the eaves where, due to cooler temperatures at this part of the roof, the liquid re-freezes.

Ice accumulates, causing water to back up onto your roof, which typically then goes through multiple freeze-thaw cycles. The process causes water to seep under shingles, and eventually into your home through leaks in the roof that can be exacerbated by water freezing and expanding in them.

Ice-Dam Prevention

In order to avoid the costly repairs associated with ice dams, they need to be addressed as soon as possible. Preventing them, however, is the most effective way to deal with them. This can involve more short-term solutions, like using heated cables along the edges of your roof to prevent ice from accumulating, or more involved long-term solutions.

Long-term solutions for ice-dam prevention involve addressing the structural integrity of your home and roof. This could include addressing potential leaks, improving attic ventilation and floor insulation, updating older heat-creating recessed lighting with insulated can lights, and replacing flashing around areas such as chimneys.

Cleaning your gutters in the late fall and removing debris is also a strategy for preventing ice- dam build-up.

Ice-Dam Removal

While prevention is the number one strategy for managing ice dams, they may have already formed on your roof and will require removal. Here are some strategies for taking care of this challenging winter problem:

Using tools. Using a tool like an axe or pick to break up and remove an ice dam is the least recommended strategy for removal. Climbing onto a snowy, icy roof is dangerous in and of itself, and using a sharp or pointed object to break up ice simply compounds this danger. Of course, trying to manage ice dams in this way can result in damage to a roof because shingles and roofing materials are typically weaker and more easily damaged in cold temperatures.

High-powered steam. There are professionals who specialize in ice-dam removal using high- powered steam, a safe and easy solution.

Using de-icers in conjunction with a snow rake. This is the safest and most recommended strategy for removing ice dams yourself. Remove snow from the edge of your roof using a roof rake. Use a calcium chloride de-icing product either in the form of tablets or in granulated form inside nylon stockings. The filled stockings can then be placed across the ice dam and will melt channels through the ice.

Don’t use rock salt for this strategy as it can cause significant damage to your roof. Similarly, be sure to cover any landscaping below your eaves when using this method to prevent the chemical-containing run-off from damaging shrubs and plants.

Using hot water. This is not a recommended method as the water used to melt ice dams can quickly cool, freeze, and compound the issue you’re trying to address. However, it can be used in conjunction with the above strategy to make some headway on the ice dam removal process.

Unless your home has been specifically updated to prevent ice-dam formation, removal may be an inevitable aspect of managing the effects of winter on your home and roof. Being preventive versus intervention when it comes to dealing with ice dams is really the most desirable strategy for maintaining your home’s integrity this winter.

If removal is a must, consider the safest method for both your home and yourself and be sure to address this winter challenge as soon as it’s detected to avoid any serious damage that might result.

The Average Cost of Hail Damage Repair

The Average Cost of Hail Damage Repair

The Average Cost of Hail Damage Repair

Many homeowners are prone to ask, "What does it cost, on average, to repair the damage done by a hail storm?" The question is important, and hail damage repairs can often cost thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the hail, the impact angle and force, and the duration of the storm.

The truth is, however, that hail damage varies widely in total cost and falls into three major categories: roof damage, pavement damage, and vehicle damage. Siding, fences, and decking can also potentially suffer harm from hail impacts, but we should focus here on "the big three" that we have identified.

Hail Damage to Roofing

Being more exposed to the weather than any other part of the house, roofs take the brunt of every hailstorm. Asphalt shingles, while the most common and among the cheapest forms of roof material, are prone to severe damage by hail stones, given the right conditions.

Oftentimes, hail will leave circular dents, dings, and cracks predominantly only on one side/section of a roof or scattered here and there throughout. This makes it possible to usually replace only a portion of the shingles, but untouched shingles adjacent to damaged ones will have to be taken up and put back down during the repair process, which adds to labor costs. You can easily expect a few hundred to a few thousand dollars of damage in these partial replacement jobs.

When the damage is severe and widespread enough to call for total roof replacement, you could be looking at a $10,000 to $20,000 (approximately $13,440 to $26,880 CAD) bill. Luckily, homeowners' insurance will typically cover this expense, and you will only have to pay the deductible and any peripheral expenses like replacing pieces of rotted-out roof decking. However, insurance companies will withhold the "depreciation" value, meaning the difference between the value of a brand new roof and the value of your not-brand-new roof. If your roof is, say, 10 years old, expect $3,000 to $5,000 (approximately $4,032 to $6,720 CAD) to come off. Many insurers will "refund" the depreciation sum directly to the contractor after the new roof is on, but it won't be in your initial cash claim.

Finally, note that, whether replacement is total or partial, you can expect to pay $400 to $700 (approximately $537 to $940 CAD) per "square" (100 square foot roofing section). This includes material, labor, underlayment, flashing, and everything. The total cost is around $4,000 to $5,000 (approximately $5,376 to $6,720 CAD) on an average-sized roof, but this does not include extra for tearing off the existing roofing.

Hail Damage to Driveways

Concrete pavement should not be significantly damaged by hail, unless it was improperly installed to begin with, but asphalt driveways are often victimized by hail stones. Even basic homeowner's insurance, however, usually covers hail damage to asphalt surfaces, so long as the insurer's assessor agrees it really was hail that did the damage.

In mild cases, you can probably just patch up any dimples and reseal the surface, which ought to be done every 3 to 5 years anyway to strengthen the surface and keep it from getting too brittle in cold weather. This may not even cost $100 (approximately $134 CAD).

The next level is to have your asphalt resurfaced, which averages around $1.50 to $2.50 per square foot (approximately $21.69 to $36.15 CAD per square meter). It can be done in a single day, and would cost $750 to $1,250 (approximately $1,008 to $1,680 CAD) on a 500-square-foot (46.45 m2) drive.

If the hail damage has weakened the underlying structure enough to merit removal and replacement, you will be looking at about $3 to $4 per square foot (approximately $43.39 to $57.85 CAD per square meter). That's $1,500 to $2,000 (approximately $2,016 to $2,688 CAD) to replace 500 square feet (46.45 m2) of pavement.

Keep in mind that the real costs will vary greatly based on local pricing, size of driveway, and how "high-end" you choose to go.

Hail Damage to Automobiles

Often overlooked is the cost of hail damage to vehicles, but the total price tag can be quite significant. It is common to see prices of at least $30 (approximately $40 CAD) per hail impact for PDR (paintless dent repair) of even the smallest hail dents. Medium-sized dents may cost $50 (approximately $67 CAD) to remove, and large dents can cost up to $80 (approximately $107 CAD) per dent.

If the dents are in hard to work on areas like the car's roof, the cost goes up. Finally, broken windshields average about $300 (approximately $403 CAD) to replace.

If you have comprehensive auto insurance (often the case when you have not yet paid off the car loan), hail damage will be covered.

Hail damage costs homeowners millions of dollars in damage every single year in the U.S. While it often cannot be prevented, there are ways to minimize, and homeowner's and comprehensive auto insurance policies will cover it. Knowing the potential costs of hail damage ahead of time will help motivate to guard and insure against it so you are not caught unprepared should a major hail storm hit your home.