Everything You Should Know About Ice Dams
Every winter, we see ice dams hanging from roofs. This ridge of ice, which forms at the roof’s edge stops melt water from snow from draining off. Instead, the water stays behind the ice dam and leaks through the shingles into the home resulting in serious damage to ceilings, walls, and insulation.
Ice damming causes a colossal loss to homeowners and insurance companies annually. In order to prevent the losses caused by ice dams, we are sharing with you the reasons why they occur, how you can prevent them, and what to do if you have ice dams.
How Ice Dams Form on Roofs
Basically, ice damming occurs because of heat loss, or uneven heating and cooling of different parts of the roof. The center of the house and the rigdeline are usually at a higher temperature than the lower parts of the roof. This causes the snow that falls at this section of the roof to melt faster and flow downward.
However, due to the cooler temperature at the lower end of the roof, the melt water and snow cool down and accumulate there. This is the reason why you will see icicles and a large volume of snow at the roof gutters and eaves during winter. Unfortunately, as more snow melts, the water runs down and becomes trapped under the ice and it seeps into the building, causing a lot of damage.
What Can Make Your Home Vulnerable to Ice Dams?
Most of the heat losses from the roof occur due to poor attic insulation, poor ventilation within the home, and gaps between the attic and the living space. It is almost impossible to totally stop heat from escaping through a roof. But it can be greatly minimized.
There are other features that can increase the risk of having an ice dam on your roof. For instance, dropped ceilings, varied roof angles, a low pitched roof, or a split level home, can increase your vulnerability to ice dams. Homes with tree coverage, skylights and dormers are also more likely to have ice dams.
What to Do to Prevent Ice Dams
If you notice ice dams on the roofs in your neighborhood and you want to prevent them from occurring on yours, you should call on a roofing contractor to help you with the following:
- Clearing of all accumulated snow and debris from your roof and roof gutters
- Inspection and repair of attic insulation including sealing of gaps that permit warm air to pass into the attic or the underside of your roof.
- Sealing and flashing of your chimney
- Sealing and insulation of duct work.
What to Do if You Have an Ice Dam
If you observe an ice dam on your roof, please contact us immediately. The earlier we inspect and correct the situation for you, the less likely you will encounter serious damage in your home. If you hesitate, the damage to your home could be become very severe and your home insurance company may not provide all the money you need to complete the repairs. Early repairs could save you thousands of dollars. Don’t attempt to climb your roof and remove the ice by yourself, the ice is usually very dense and it could cause serious injuries if it is not handled by a professional.