With the record setting snow fall of the last few months in Minnesota, many homeowner associations are starting to see ice dams. An ice dam is a chunk of ice on the edge of your roof line and is usually caused by inadequate insulation or ventilation which allows escaping heat to melt snow on the roof. When the melted snow reaches the cooler roof line, the water refreezes creating a dam of ice.

Ice dams cause problems when they get large enough to trap melting snow (water) behind them. The pooled water can then leak through the roof to the interior of the building, damaging drywall and personal property alike.

Like many maintenance issues in an association, an ounce of prevention goes a long way. Having adequate insulation will prevent heat from escaping which in turn prevents snow from melting creating ice dams. The best long-term solution for ice dams is to talk to a trusted contractor to evaluate insulation and attics.

In the short-term, associations can hire a contractor to remove the snow from the roofs to prevent ice dams. Without melting snow, ice dams can’t form. If an ice dam has already formed, contractors are able to remove them through a combination of steam and salt.

The most important (and common) question is always: Who will pay for this? For the roof shoveling and ice dam removal, the association itself will usually be responsible for undertaking these tasks but may assess the costs back to the homeowners. While it will depend on what your association’s declaration says, most modern associations can assess the cost of maintenance to the units which benefit. Put simply, if the association decides to have the ice dam on my townhome unit removed, I can usually be assessed the cost.

Interior water damage in a unit will almost always be the responsibility of the individual homeowner. If water leaks in to their unit, homeowners should immediately take two steps (1) inform their association and (2) make an insurance claim under their HO-6 policy. Homeowners with a HO-6 policy should have coverage for water damage caused by ice dams.

If you or your association have questions about ice dams or any other homeowner association issues, call SJJ today for a free consultation.