What are Ice Dams?
Icicles, although attractive to look at, can tear off gutters and loosen shingles. This can lead to water buildup in your home.
Ice damming is a phenomenon that occurs when water from melting snow accumulates on the surface of a roof. The re-freezing ice can prevent water from draining properly, leading to extensive damage to the roof and the interior of the house. Temperature fluctuations can also affect snowmelt.
As melted snow travels down the roof’s surface, it eventually comes in contact with the deck over the eaves. This portion of the roof is not exposed to heat from the attic and it is the point where ice begins to form.
Other causes of ice dams include:
- Poor roofing designs and materials such as:
- The shape of your roof
- Pitch of your roof
- Type of shingles
- Poor insulation of the roof, which allows heat to escape from the attic and can cause ice to form there.
- Insufficient ventilation in the attic can also cause heat to escape and result in ice formation on the roof.
- Insufficient insulation in the eaves and rakes (the area under the eave that extends beyond the wall), where snow can build up and freeze.
- The ground below the roof is too warm, which means that the snow melts and refreezes in layers. This process can cause an ice dam to form.
- If there is a vent pipe on top of your roof, it could be letting in cold air and causing the snow to melt.
- If you have gutters that are clogged with debris, this can lead to an ice dam forming as well.
What Happens if I Don’t Remove the Ice Dam From My Roof?
Ice dams are an inevitable part of winter, but they can cause some serious damage if you don’t take care of them. If you don’t remove ice dams from your roof, it could lead to the following:
- Mold growth in the attic or around windows
- Falling ice that damages the exterior of your home
- Water entering through cracks in your roof or walls
- Structural damage to the roof and gutter
- Damage to the shingles on your roof
Tips for Getting Rid Of an Ice Dam on Your Roof
Ice dams are a huge problem, especially if you live in an area where they’re common. Here are some tips for getting rid of them:
- Use a roof rake to clear the first 5-10 feet of snow on your roof.
- Make sure your gutters are clear of snow and ice. If not, it’s likely that water will get trapped in them and start to freeze, which will cause an ice dam on your roof.
- Check your roof for leaks and repair any problems as soon as possible–this will prevent further damage to your home and also help keep ice dams from forming in the future!
- Use heat cables or other methods of insulation to keep heat from escaping from around windows, doors, pipes, and vents; this will help prevent them from freezing over during cold weather conditions when they would otherwise be susceptible to forming an ice dam on top of them (which can lead to more serious problems down the road).
- If you have an older roof, consider replacing it with a newer style that is more resistant to ice dams.
- If you have an older home with shingles, consider installing synthetic roofing material like asphalt or PVC instead of wood shingles, it’s less likely to leak when it gets cold outside because these materials don’t expand as much as wood does when temperatures drop below freezing point.
This website offers a helpful video and tips on how to remove ice dams.
Preventing Ice Dams for Good
Ice dam removal methods only provide temporary solutions to the problem. Although ice dams can be mitigated by using insulating covers over the sides of your roof, these devices won’t permanently prevent ice dams from forming.
To prevent ice dams from forming on your roof, your roofers must address the underlying issues that are causing the problem. While many homeowners believe the cause of their gutter problem is poor gutter maintenance, this is rarely the case. Insulation is often the cause of condensation on the underside of roofing tiles.
Work with your roofing professional to discover what type of attic insulation is in place and whether you need to upgrade to a more effective type. Insulating your attic will prevent the home’s heat from reaching your shingles. Therefore, the snow on the shingles will not melt or be able to refreeze as an ice dam.
You may have ice dams on your roof because of other roofing issues. Solving these problems won’t necessarily fix the ice dam, but it may help reduce the severity of the problem. They can also help protect your roof from damage caused by excessive wear and tear. Some of the factors contributing to this phenomenon may include:
- Ventilation: Ventilation for other home systems must be designed to continue past the roof. If they do, they will melt the snow around them, leading to ice dam formation when the water refreezes. Consider running vents through the exterior wall of your home instead.
- Maintenance of Gutters: Clogged or slow-draining gutters are seldom the cause of an ice dam, but they may contribute to the formation of ice dams. Fall is the best time to clean your gutters to avoid problems with them forming ice dams in the winter.
- Connection Points of your Roof: A roof design that does not take into account ice dam formation can be the cause of the damage caused by an ice dam. For example, if rain falls on an upper roof plane and drains onto a lower unheated roof plane, the rainwater may freeze and cause ice dams. A roofing professional can tell you if your roof design is the problem and offer advice about how to solve the issue.
Protecting your home from an ice dam is a significant undertaking. Poor preparation and solution can lead to serious problems if not resolved quickly. By following the tips outlined in this article, you will be well on your way to protecting your property and family from the dangers of ice dams.
We also suggest reaching out to a professional company to take care of your ice dams. A local, Minnesota company we suggest is Northface Construction LLC – check them out HERE.
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