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Check your gutters for ice damming after Friday's snowstorm

Ice damming is more common on older roofs and gutters, and it can cause damage worse than that from wind or hail.

DES MOINES, Iowa — After Friday's deluge of snow, which brought Des Moines' biggest two-day snow total in 12 years, there's lots of digging out to do—but that doesn't just mean your driveways and sidewalks. 

Ice damming occurs when water freezes in your gutters. Then, pile on snow or rain on your roof, and there's nowhere for that water to go—except down into your insulation or walls.

Jared Harrison with R3 Construction said when you see the problem inside your house, it's too late.

"Most people don't know they have an issue until they see the damage on the ceiling or on the wall," Harrison said.

However, there are plenty of ways to prevent it from happening in the first place.

"The best insurance for ice dams is being preventative. Get the ice and water shields on your roof, put heat cables in the valleys and on the transitions," said Keith Gilbert, an independent insurance adjuster with more than two decades of experience.

He added that if you do get some water damage inside your house, most good homeowner policies will cover that.

The best two pieces of advice above all from both Harrison and Gilbert? 

1. Make sure you have an ice and water guard to keep water from seeping into your insulation.
2. Get your roof looked at annually! Most roofers or contractors can give you an estimate for free, or at a very low cost compared to the alternative of waiting until things go downhill.

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