Winter can be a tough time for everyone, but it’s especially hard on our homes. While we enjoy the beautiful look of the snow falling outside, it is actually wreaking havoc on your home; especially your roof. Ice dams can present one of the biggest hazards. We’re going to explore how ice dams form and what problems they cause. This is going to give you a basic understanding of what you can do to prevent them, or potentially eliminate the threat.
What is an Ice Dam?
You know that ridge of ice that forms on your roof’s edge? That’s an ice dam. When the air inside the house’s attic is warmer than the outside air, this heats up the upper portion of the roof, and it causes the snow to melt. The threat of the ice dam is that it prevents melting snow from draining off the roof properly. Ice dams block the snow and this pushes the water up into your shingles.
Why are Ice Dams a Danger?
Ice dams pose a serious threat to the underlayment and decking of your roof. The buildup of ice causes damage, leading to leaks that creep into your ceilings, walls, and even your insulation. When you don’t do anything about the dams, they can rot your sheathing and rafters, and even the interior and exterior wall framing. Ice dams can also cause icicles that break off, creating damage to your siding and gutters.
How Do I Prevent Them?
The best way to prevent ice dams is to have proper insulation. Good insulation is going to prevent attic heat, which in turn will prevent heating of your roof and melting the snow. Take steps to ensure that your attic has proper ventilation and seal all air leaks to prevent the heat from escaping. You also want to remove snow from your roof regularly, and keep the gutters clear of all debris and leaves, as they can block drainage.
Keep in mind that a clogged gutter can accelerate ice dam formation, because it causes water to pool inside the gutters instead of draining off. This water then refreezes and forms an ice dam. What’s the smart choice? Hiring a contractor to install a specialty gutter system to prevent ice from clogging the gutters. You can even get gutters that have a heating option that uses heat cable to melt the snow on the edge of your roof. This prevents ice buildup and keeps the water flowing.