Do you flee for Florida or other southern states at the first hint that the weather is turning frigid? If so, take note. This bit of info could save you thousands of dollars and many headaches.

There is absolutely nothing worse than coming home to find out that an ice dam formed on your roof in your absence and left you with water damage to the inside of your home. Since you weren’t home you had no way of responding to the leaks as they formed. The damage could be incredibly extensive.

Step 1: Hire a House Sitter

At the very least, you need to find someone who will drive by your house every so often so that they can take a quick look at your roof. That way, they can call you when they think an ice dam is forming (i.e. see large icicles), giving you the option of responding quickly. They can also be on-site to monitor a professional’s performance.

Early response is the key to preventing damage. If you don’t have at least one pair of eyes on your home, then early response is simply going to be impossible for you.

Step 2: Lower the Heat Before You Leave

Remember that hot roofs cause most ice dams, so it’s not a good idea to blast your heat at 80 degrees when you’re not going to be around to enjoy it. Taking your heat all the way down to somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 degrees is a great way to minimize any issues you may have with ventilation or insulation. It’s also a great way to save money while you’re not home.

Step 3: Get a Snow Removal Service

Keeping your roof clear of snow is one of the best ways to keep ice dams from forming. You’re not going to be there to rake the roof. Hiring someone to swing by your house and take care of the snow is a great way to hedge your bets. You don’t necessarily have to have them remove every flake of snow from the roof, but if they can keep it off your overhangs then you’ve at least won half the battle. You could also pay the guy who plows your driveway to rake your roof and/or keep an eye out for ice dams.

Ice dams simply cannot form unless there is snow on the roof, melting and refreezing. And you still need to do this even if you’ve decided to keep your house colder. Radiant heat from the sun and certain weather conditions can promote ice dam formation even if you don’t have a hot roof.

Step 4: Research an Ice Dam Company You Trust

Sometimes you can do everything right and get ice dams anyway. When that happens, you don’t want to scramble around attempting to find guys while you’re 900 miles away.

Take the time to do some research and form a relationship with a trustworthy company before you leave the state. Keep the number handy. That way when your house sitter (or whomever) calls there won’t be any panic or worry. You’ll just reach out to the company you’ve chosen and tell them to go over and take care of business. Get your house sitter to send a photo of the completed work, pay the bill from your credit card and go back to enjoying the warm, sunny climate, secure in the knowledge that your house is safe and sound.