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How to prevent snow and ice damage

How to prevent snow and ice damage

Winter is hard on our homes—snow and ice buildup can do serious damage. But the good news is that it’s often preventable. Here are 4 ways you can protect your home.

1. Snow and ice buildup on the roof

Canadian homes are typically designed to stand up to the trials of winter. But snow and ice can easily build up and all that extra weight can damage your roof.

Clear snow and ice off the roof

Don’t let snow and ice build up. Clear the roof before you get 2 feet of snow or 2 inches of ice.

Snow removal tips: When you remove snow, try to leave at least a few inches snow on the roof to avoid damaging the shingles.

If you do it yourself, take care: Don’t climb on the roof. Work from the ground using a roof rake with a telescopic handle. Keep your tools well away from nearby hydro cables.

Call in the pros: If the job is too big or if you need to remove a lot of ice, we recommend that you hire a professional with the right equipment and knowledge of safety procedures.

Check for signs of water seepage

No matter how much snow or ice there is, be on the lookout for signs that water is seeping through the roof. Check the ceiling and walls on the top floor of your house for:

  • Water stains or rings
  • Blistering
  • Water droplets

Check for signs of structural damage

  • Cracks on indoor walls
  • Interior doors that start to stick, rub or not close properly
  • Warped ceilings
  • Unusual structural creaking

If you’re worried about the risk of water seepage or buildup of snow and ice on the roof, ask a building expert for advice right away.

2. Ice dams

Icicles hanging from the eaves can be a sign of a potentially serious problem—ice dams.

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edges of a sloped roof. If there’s an ice dam on your roof, it stops snowmelt from draining off. That causes water to puddle on the roof where it can seep through into your home.

What causes ice dams?

If your attic is poorly insulated, heat from the house rises and melts the snow on the roof. The melting snow flows down to the lowest part of the roof where it freezes—creating an ice dam.

How to prevent ice dams

Make sure your attic is well insulated. Insulation keeps the heat inside and stops it escaping through the roof.

  • Inspect the attic and seal any openings that could let warm air from your home escape into the attic. Add batting to fill any spaces.
  • Make sure the attic is well ventilated and cool. That way, any snow on the roof will be less likely to melt and create ice dams.
  • Regularly check the edges of your roof for telltale icicles that could be a sign of ice dams.

3. Snow and ice on your above ground pool

Above ground swimming pools are designed to withstand the weight of water in the summer, but they’re more vulnerable to the pressure of heavy snow and ice in the winter. Also, fluctuating temperatures in the spring can change snow into ice, and that can damage your pool, especially the cover.

How to protect your above ground pool in winter:

Remove snow regularly

Clear the snow off your swimming pool, so it’s never entirely buried under snow. Don’t get into the pool to shovel snow because it could give way under your weight.

Avoid damaging the rim

Use a plastic shovel to avoid scratching the edges of the pool. Also avoid walking on the coping to clear snow from the rim of the pool as this could weaken or crush the pool structure.

Don’t forget about the pool drain

Remove snow from inside and on top of the drain to keep it from cracking.

Hire a professional

The work will be done right and safely.

4. Other parts of your home

Stairs, doors and balconies

Remove snow or ice right away. Remember to be thorough—especially if they’re used as emergency exits.

Temporary carports

Temporary carports can’t withstand excessive snow and ice buildup, so it’s important to clear them regularly. They can collapse under the weight of snow, so try to work from the outside rather than the inside when removing snow.

Oil and gas appliances

Make sure there’s adequate clearance around tanks and pipes and that they’re easily accessible and protected if snow and ice falls from the roof.

Hot tubs

Remove snow after every storm to make sure the cover survives the winter!

Does your home insurance cover you against snow and ice damage?

If you’re insured with us, speak to your Desjardins Agent to find out if your policy covers damage caused by the weight of ice or snow. Your agent can also give you tips on preventing problems and tell you when it’s time to think about re-roofing your home.

These tips are provided for information and prevention purposes only. They are general in nature, and Desjardins Insurance cannot be held liable for them. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.

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