Winter is coming to Bedford, NH, bringing with it snow and ice. These dangerous weather conditions can wreak havoc on your business, as there is a greater risk of structural damage caused by ice dams. Though most Bedford small business insurance policies cover the ensuing damage caused by ice dams, your business will obviously face less hassle by preventing such an event from happening in the first place. Take the time to learn how to prevent damage ice dams from occurring.
What are ice dams?
As you drive around Bedford and New Hampshire in the winter, it’s common to see icicles hanging from the eaves with a mound of ice behind it. This mound is called an ice dam. It occurs when heat from inside the structure melts the bottommost layer of snow on the roof, allowing the water to run down to the colder eaves, where it will refreeze. As this process continues, the ice dam can build up to dangerous levels, where it can cause damage to your roof, siding, and allow water to leak inside the structure.
While your small business insurance may help with the cost to repair the damage, it’s best to prevent ice dams from forming before they start. Contractors around Bedford are experienced in ice dam prevention, and can help pinpoint areas specific to your business structure. Some common prevention techniques include:
- Improved insulation in the attic or crawlspace to minimize heat loss
- Ventilation to help heat escape under the eaves
- Heated coils placed on the roof to prevent ice formation
- Remove snow from the roof after each storm, with a roof rake by removing upwards of three to four feet before the snow has a chance to melt.
- When your roof needs to be replaced, install a water repellent membrane beneath the shingles because this can prevent water from seeping inside the building.
Preventing ice dams before they have a chance to form will help keep your business running smoothly, without having to fall back on your small business insurance policy.
How Do You Know if You Have an Ice Dam?
Check the icicles around the building. If there are icicles hanging from the roof with ice trapped behind it, then you may have an ice dam. (Icicles do typically form around gutters but as long as there is not an accumulation of ice behind it, then an ice dam has not likely formed.)
- Look for water stains and/or moisture at the top floor of the building. This will likely indicate that water has penetrated the roof membrane.
How to Safely Remove Ice Dams:
Hire an Insured Contractor
If you experience an ice dam, you will need to remove it to prevent further damage from occurring. It’s important to remember that as ice dams are on the roof, safety is important. Often, it may be best to hire a professional for assistance, but make sure that the contractor provides a certificate of insurance verifying that they have a current policy in place that will cover them for snow removal. (See a prior HPM Insurance blog titled Will My Bedford Contractors Insurance Cover Me for Snow & Ice Removal.)
A Do-It-Yourself Method for Ice Dam Removal
Melt the ice with calcium chloride
Put calcium chloride in a nylon stocking, and lay it vertically across the ice dam. This will gradually melt through the ice, creating a channel for water to flow. Be aware that any shrubs, trees or plants near gutters or downspouts may be damaged as a result of the calcium chloride.
Do not confuse calcium chloride with rock salt as rock salt will cause extensive damage to the roof, gutters and siding!
If your building is damaged from an ice dam, it is important to stay on top of snow removal and contact your small business insurance agent for assistance in filing a claim. Unlike most other claims, ice dams can keep happening as long as the right conditions continue. If your building has an older roof you will want to stay on top of snow removal because even if you repair interior water damage from an ice dam, it will most likely just happen again after the next snow storm.
Winters in New Hampshire can be long and challenging, but being aware of how to prevent such a loss can help keep your business running and your insurance premiums under control.
Disclaimer: This material is for informational purposes only. All statements herein are subject to the provisions, exclusions and conditions of an applicable policy or law. For an actual description of all coverages, terms and conditions, refer to the specific insurance policy in question. Coverage will always depend on the facts and circumstances involved in the claim or loss, all applicable policy or bond provisions, as well as applicable law.