Date: February 1, 2013
For more information contact: J.P. Wieske, Public Information Officer, (608) 266-2493 or jp.wieske@wisconsin.gov

Winter's Wonders Can Hide Icy Hazards

Madison, WI—Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel asks residents to pay attention to the roofs of their homes and businesses to prevent ice dams and the hazards associated with them.

Ice dams form when melting snow runs down the slope of the roof and refreezes near the edge. As more snow melts and runs down the roof, water builds up behind the ice dam and could seep into a home or business, damaging walls, carpeting and cabinets.

"With the unseasonably warm temperatures the second weekend of January and our return to cold temperatures, there is a real possibility for ice dams," noted Nickel. "When snow melts during the day and refreezes at night when temperatures fall, coupled with more snow, ice dams can form very quickly."

Commissioner Nickel offers the following tips for preventing ice dams:

  • Remove the snow from the bottom portion of your roof using a "roof rake" or a push broom. Do not climb on the roof.
  • Limit the number of times you remove the snow to save your shingles from becoming damaged.
  • Avoid chipping away at the ice as this can cause further damage to your roof and shingles.
  • Make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and other obstructions to allow for water to flow freely to the ground.
  • Keep the attic well insulated from the rest of the house to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from within the house. The colder your attic is the less melting and refreezing will occur on your roof.
  • Ensure your attic is well ventilated.
  • Check with a professional contractor to do an in-home evaluation.

"After you check your roof, take time to check your insurance policy to make sure it is up to date," Nickel added. "Ice damage can become very costly. It is important to have sufficient coverage in your insurance policy."

For information about filing an insurance claim after an ice dam has caused damage to your home, contact your insurance agent or company.

Consumer publications such as "Consumer's Guide to Homeowner's Insurance" and "Settling Property Insurance Claims" are available through the OCI's Web site at oci.wi.gov. Publications can also be ordered free from the agency by calling 1-800-236-8517 or writing to OCI Publications at P.O. Box 7873, Madison, WI 53707-7873.


Created by the Legislature in 1871, Wisconsin's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) was vested with broad powers to ensure that the insurance industry responsibly and adequately met the insurance needs of Wisconsin citizens. Today, OCI's mission is to lead the way in informing and protecting the public and responding to its insurance needs.