Ice dams, panty hose and ice melt – a winter trifecta

Ice DamsIf you’ve been listening to the predictions for this Winter here in the Northeast – we’re expecting a rough one! And along with a lot of snow comes those horrid ice dams – a serious problem that will not only do damage to your home, but also is a cause for many winter insurance claims.

If you happen to be new to the North – let me fill you in on what an ice dam is: When snow accumulates on a roof, a cycle of melting and refreezing occurs. In a perfect world, the snow would melt off the roof, enter the gutters, and flow harmlessly to the ground (before it gets too cold – make sure you clean those gutters and follow these other Fall cleaning tips). Or the snow would evaporate from the action of the sun, and never really melt off unless the outside temperature rose above the freezing point. However, two key factors interact to cause problems… the outside temperature and the temperature of the inside of your attic.

The warmer your attic is, the more melt off that occurs at the roof surface. This melted snow would normally flow off the edge of the roof. Under certain conditions, though, when air temperature is very low, the water refreezes at the edge of the roof, where the interior roof surface is not being warmed by the attic. This refreezing gradually forms what is fondly known as an “ice dam”, a growing heap of ice that blocks path of the melted snow.

Once this dam forms to a certain height, the melted snow that pools up behind it can suddenly leak back under the roof shingles and into your home! On a roof with a low slope, it only takes a small ice dam to cause water backup and leakage.I can tell you from personal experience – it’s not a fun situation, especially when water is leaking from the ceiling into your living room!

Now what do you do?

Fix the issue before it’s an issue: Increase the insulation, sealing and ventilation in your attic as soon as possible.

What if you already have an ice dam? Get rid of the ice damn as quickly as possible. A great quick fix is actually an “old farmer’s cures” from This Old House’s website.

  • Using a roof rake, remove snow 3-4 feet from the edge of your roof, being careful not to damage the roof covering or to allow snow to build up around walking paths or to block emergency exits.
  • Use a calcium chloride ice melt product, which you can generally purchase from your local hardware store. Be sure not to use rock salt or sodium chloride, which can damage your roof.
  • Fill a nylon stocking with the calcium chloride ice melt.
  • Safely place and position the calcium chloride-filled nylon stocking vertically across the ice dam so that it can melt a channel through the ice.

It’s a great way to reuse and recycle some old hose that may have runs or holes and it’s a heck of a lot easier than getting up on your roof trying to break apart the ice! Have a secret quick fix to dealing with ice damns – we’d love to hear it.

Stephen Davis
Sinclair Risk & Financial Management

Ice Dams Steve Davis

Stay afloat with these boating safety tips

_JBK5366Shorts, flip-flops, BBQs and cold brews. Tis the season of sunshine and Topsiders. (They’re back. Just ask Hip Daddy.)6-1 Davis Boating safety tips

As the mercury creeps up, so does the popularity of those who own boats. Popular you may be, but what you don’t want are claims against your watercraft insurance policies. (Boat and yacht owners -…you do have watercraft insurance right?)

Yes, owning a boat carries extra risk, but with the right precautions, you can cruise carefree all season. Follow these tips to keep things safe on the high seas or the local lake:

Expert Safety Check — Don’t float your boat without first having the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary perform a FREE inspection. Yes, that’s right…FREE. Just fill out the form on this website to get the process started.

Know Your Driver Knows His Stuff — Whether you’re the captain of the ship or just along for the ride, make sure your driver has the knowledge and skills to keep things safe. There are several online options, such as this one, that offer state-specific safety courses and tests for earning a Safe Boating Certificate. Note: Completing a course like this is mandatory for watercraft operators in Connecticut.

Carbon Monoxide…Not Just An Indoor Threat — It’s not pleasant to think about, but carbon monoxide from malfunctioning generators and motors is a silent killer that can creep up on boating passengers. Install and test a CO detector in enclosed spaces, and be aware that even without a roof overhead, CO can build up and cause problems for those nearby. CO symptoms are similar to seasickness or alcohol intoxication. CO can affect you whether you’re underway, moored, or anchored. It’s odorless and tasteless and can cause serious illness very quickly.

Don’t Drink and Drive…Your Boat Either!  — This should go without saying, but you shouldn’t even be driving a bike while intoxicated, let alone a boat. The solution on the sea is the same on the land: If you or your captain just can’t resist the gin and tonics, turn the wheel over to your designated driver.

Life Jackets…For Swimmers and Non-Swimmers Alike — There should be a life jacket (that fits) for everyone on board your boat…and all should be wearing them! Gone are the days of puffy orange for all. Modern life jackets come in all sorts of styles and colors. Some are super thin and inflate when they hit water. There’s no excuse to not wear one. If you have any doubt, just focus on the first word in the item’s name.

Have a safe summer!

Stephen Davis

VP of Commercial & Personal Lines
Sinclair Risk & Financial Management