Defending Your Home From Winter Ice Dams

Ice dams

Ice dams form when the roof gets too warm

because of air leaks or inadequate insulation.

Ice dams can be a real problem for homeowners in the winter. Not only do they look unsightly, but they can cause roof leaks and eventually even foundation problems the longer they hang around.

How Ice Dams Form

When your roof gets warmed by heat rising from the lower floors, warm ductwork or other problems, it causes snow to melt and begin to run down the roof. When it hits the eaves, which are usually colder, the water refreezes and forms the ice dam with characteristic icicles hanging off the roof and gutters.

Why Ice Dams Are Dangerous

The problem isn’t the ice dam itself. Eventually, all that ice will melt when warmer temperatures come. The problem with ice dams is that some of the water running down your roof can get forced through cracks or under soffits and into your house, causing water and even mold damage to occur in the attic, on ceilings and on walls. Ice dams can also cause damage to roof shingles which could lead to further roof damage and leaks.

In rare cases, the melting ice can lead to water pouring directly onto your home’s foundation and cause damage there as well. All of these problems can be prevented by understanding how to prevent ice dams and taking steps to protect your home.

How to Prevent Ice Dams

The key to preventing ice dams is simple: keep the roof cold. This seems counterintuitive, but actually makes sense when you consider that it’s the melting of snow that causes ice dams to form. Insulating the attic floor will usually keep the heat from getting into the attic, and will help reduce your heating costs as a bonus.

In addition to insulation, a ventilation system around the soffits will allow cold air to enter the attic and further lower the roof temperature. If there are air leaks between the attic and the rest of the house, sealing them will help as well.

In some cases, ice dams still form even though the attic is insulated. When using your attic as living space, even insulating the roof won’t keep its temperature low enough to prevent snow from melting. In this case, or in cases where ice dams keep forming despite adequate insulation, heated coils can be installed part way up the roof to prevent melted ice from refreezing along the roof line.

Ice dams
Preventing ice dams can help your roof last longer.

Safety Precautions to Consider

Although it is possible to install insulation yourself, insulating around vents and sealing leaks around wires needs to be done safely to avoid fire risks. Professional installation will ensure that the proper materials are used to keep your home safe.

Removing Ice Dams

If ice dams do form on your roof, you can try to remove them yourself or have them removed by a professional. Roof shovels can attempt to remove snow off a one-story roof to prevent ice dams from forming, but they can damage shingles, which get brittle in below freezing temperatures. If they do form, professionals can use a steam device to melt the ice and get it off the roof safely before it can cause damage.

Moonworks can provide insulation installation and other services to safely prevent ice dams from forming on your roof. Contact us online or call us at 1-800-975-6666 today.

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