Ice Dams

February 2016

The 2014/2015 winter in Massachusetts was one for the record books. It was a reminder to all of us just how damaging winter can be on our homes.

Some condo corporations experienced damage to more than 50% of their suites as a result of ice dams. Their insurance may not have covered this damage where roofs were not properly cleared of ice and snow.

An ice dam occurs when accumulated snow melts and flows along the roof, under existing snow, until it reaches below freezing temperature air. Ice accumulates, forming a dam, and prevents melted snow – water – from draining. This can damage roofs, ceilings, insulation, walls and other areas of a structure. Massive leaking can damage interior suites and common areas. Falling ice can damage buildings, downspouts, gutters and people.

For buildings with flat roofs, an ice dam may prevent water from draining. The additional weight of ice, water and snow may be too much for older roofs creating a risk of collapse.

When damage occurs as a result of snow and ice accumulation, it may not be covered by insurance policies. Condo management choosing not to clear ice or snow from roofs may find their policy coverage more limited.

Fortunately, Toronto has been less prone to ice dams than Massachusetts but this may not last. Becoming aware of the risks from snow, ice and water accumulation is becoming more important as precipitation levels and temperatures change.