Ice dams can be an unwelcome nightmare for most homeowners, especially after they have suffered through a recent snowstorm. Despite the destruction they are known for, ice dams can be prevented with some timely maintenance or improvements to your roof’s current structure. This post will provide a brief overview of how ice dams form, as well as a few steps you can take to prevent ice dams from forming this winter.
How Do Ice Dams Form?
Ice dams form when melting snow from a roof runs off and refreezes at the edge of your roof. Typically, ice dams occur when snow is melted by a warm roof, creating the opportunity for the melted snow to refreeze when it passes the exterior wall and hits a cold unheated roof edge or gutter. As the bottom of the snow pack melts, water will continue to flow down the roof surface until it hits the ice, creating a larger ice dam.
Three Steps To Prevent Ice Dams
Install Heated Cables
A roofing contractor can help you to install heated cables along the edges of your roof in order to stave off ice dams. These cables emit heat, which helps ensure melted snow from higher up has a clear path to your gutters.
Improve Roof Ventilation
Improper ventilation is one of the main causes behind ice dam formation. So, to remedy this issue, make sure that your roof is adequately ventilated, which will help cooler air to circulate below the whole roof surface, preventing certain areas from becoming warmer than the rest, which reduces your risk of ice dams in the long term. If you aren’t familiar with the basics of roofing, it may be in your best interest to consult with a roofing contractor. Ideally, you should have a ridge vent and soffit vents that have openings of the same size.
Improve Your Home’s Ability To Trap Heat Inside
Make sure your attic hatch is covered so that you can prevent heat from escaping through the roof. For a quick and easy solution try using weather-stripped caps. They are made from a foil-faced foam board and held together with aluminum foil tape, these caps are lightweight and very easy to use.
Note: If you end up with damage caused by ice dams, check your homeowners’ insurance policy. Depending on your policy, you might be covered for issues such as water damage, mold growth, damaged siding or shingles and damaged insulation
When To Worry About Ice Dam Damage
If this situation persists, the ice can work its way back up the roof edge, get under shingles, melt and leak into the exterior wall, home or attic. You may not immediately notice any damage from ice dams; however, as the ice melts and possibly drips into your wall or attic, insulation can become wet and lose its ability to retain heat. Sometimes, if there is the right temperature and level of humidity, mold can begin to grow in the attic. You will be able to tell when this happens, because paint will peel or blister weeks or months after the ice dam has melted as moisture from the leak in the wall or ceiling cavities tries to find a way out.