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Carole Walker, RMIIA

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7951 E. Maplewood Avenue, Suite 110
Greenwood Village, Colorado 80111
Serving Colorado, New Mexico, Utah & Wyoming

Contact: Carole Walker, Executive Director
303-790-0216 or toll free 800-355-9524

Homeowners Need to Take Steps to Protect Themselves Against Heavy Snow and Ice Damage

January 8, 2007 – As Colorado homeowners continue to dig out from weeks of heavy snowfall, they need to protect their property both from the damage caused by snow build up and the impact of melting snow.  The most common claims being reported during the past several weeks are leaky roofs, due to ice dams building up under shingles, as well as, small building collapses due to weight of snow and ice.

“While Coloradans are accustomed to dealing with their share of the white stuff, the potential damage threatened by large amounts of snowfall accumulating from three storms is unusual,” says Carole Walker, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.  “As we face another round of forecasted weekend snow, homeowners really need to go the extra mile to protect their property.”

Standard homeowner policies will cover most of the kinds of damage that result from a freeze. For example, if house pipes freeze and burst or if ice forms in gutters and causes water to back up under roof shingles and seep into the house. You would also be covered if the weight of snow or ice damages your house.  If you do discover damage, make temporary repairs and keep receipts, as those costs may be reimbursed under your claim settlement.

The key to preventing snow build up and melting damage is to make sure there is proper drainage:

  • Remove snow from window wells and all walls. Watch for snow accumulation on the downwind side of a higher-level roof, where blowing snow will collect and could lead to collapse.  For safe removal you may want to consult a professional roofing contractor.

  • To reduce the risk of ice dams forming, keep your attic well ventilated to maintain a temperature close to that of the outdoors.  A warm attic melts snow on the roof, causing water to run down and refreeze at the roof's edge where it's cooler.  If ice builds up and blocks water from draining, water is forced under the roof covering and into the attic or down the inside walls.

  • If you can't easily inspect the roof, the attic is the next best place to check for problems.  Look for moisture or discoloration.

  • Make sure gutters are clean and stable.

  • Make sure downspouts slope away from the building and carry water at least five feet away from foundation walls.

  • Examine window and door seals or weather stripping.  If sealants around those openings are no longer pliable and continuous, reseal or caulk them.

  • If ice forms on tree limbs, watch for dead, damaged or dangerous branches that could break and fall because of ice, snow or wind and damage your house, a car, or injure someone walking near your property.

Avoiding Frozen Pipes

  • Keep the house heated to a minimum of 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees will not keep the inside walls from freezing.

  • Identify the location for the main water shutoff in your home. Find out how it works in case you have to use it.

  • Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving within the pipes will prevent freezing.

  • If you haven't already, make sure all hoses are disconnected from outside spigots.


Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association is a non-profit consumer information organization. Affiliated with the Insurance Information Institute, RMIIA has been serving consumers and the media since 1952.

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