Ice Dam Prevention

Though icicles may be pretty to look at, they are byproduct of ice dams.  An ice dam is a buildup of ice on the edge of a roof or an eve.  These buildups are dangerous and destructive.  They can pull off gutters, loosen shingles, and even cause water leaks.  The more snow that builds up, the more likely ice dams will form.  Ice dams can build up regardless if you have gutters or not.

icicles are the result of ice dams

When your attic does not have enough insulation or there is a leak, warm air from your home can heat the attic, which in turn can heat the roof. However, this warmth does not reach the outer portions of the roof and eve.  The snow on the roof then begins to melt.  Water travels down the roof and when it reaches the cold eves, it refreezes.  Ice accumulates on the eves and creates an ice dam.  This process continues and it can cause a backup, which then causes water to flow under shingles and enter the house.

ice dam diagram

(Image source: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20557572_21099307,00.html)

The damage caused by ice dams can be extensive.  Not only can there be damage to your roof and gutters, but it can affect the inside of your home.  When water leaks in, it can drip through the insulation and ruin your walls and ceiling.  It can also cause paint to crack and peel.  Even worse, over long periods of time, the moisture can get trapped and mold and mildew may form.  Large icicle formation is also dangerous.  Falling icicles can harm people, pets, landscaping, and more.

Luckily, there are quick temporary ways to prevent ice dams.  One option is to install heated cables along the edge of your roof. Instead of being heated from the inside by warm air, the cables will heat the eves from the outside. Another prevention technique is to use snow rakes.  By removing snow from the roof, the exterior temperature will change and shingles will not be damaged.  You should not go onto the roof to clear off snow yourself as it is extremely dangerous to do so.

using a roof rake can prevent ice dams

To permanently fix this problem, the temperature of the roof needs to be even throughout.  This could mean adding insulation, increasing ventilation, or sealing off air leaks.

If your roof is already leaking, you can use a box fan to stop more damage from occurring.  By setting up a fan in your attic and directing the air to the leak, you’ll be able to freeze the water leak before it comes into your house.  Calling a professional to come remove an ice dam is a good idea as well.  Often times, they will use high pressure steam to melt the dam away.  Make sure you don’t wait too long to deal with ice dams – the damage they inflict can be extremely costly.  It’s always better to prevent the problem than wait to address it after it’s too late.

To learn more about how Encharter can help protect your home, click here!

 

Sources:

https://bct.eco.umass.edu/publications/by-title/preventing-ice-dams/
http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20557572_21099321,00.html
http://www.homeenergysaver.lbl.gov/consumer/help-popup/content/~consumer~nrr~ice-dams

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