Preventing ice dams is an important part of protecting your roof. Excess snow and ice buildup may cause major damage to your home. Even if you’ve prepared your home for winter, it’s still possible for an ice dam to form along the edges of your roof.
Ice dams can grow slowly, and aren’t always easy to spot, especially if you don’t know what to look for. If they go ignored, melting ice water may cascade into your home, leading to costly repair bills.
What’s an Ice Dam?
An ice dam is a heavy band of ice that forms along the roof’s edge preventing water and melting snow from properly draining. Since water can’t drain, it backs up, often being forced under the shingles, leaking into your home. When water enters your home in this way, it can have multiple exit points, causing extensive damage to walls, ceilings, and insulation.
If you’ve never experienced an ice dam before, it’s important to be prepared as they can form anytime under the right conditions. Prevention is key and knowing what to look for is vital.
How Do Ice Dams Form?
The earlier you can spot the signs of an ice dam formation, the better in terms of preventing damage. Here are some of the common causes of ice dam formations:
- Poor insulation and ventilation
Insulation that’s improperly installed won’t allow proper ventilation, causing a buildup of warm air to leak into your attic. When excessive heat builds up, the snow on the roof melts which occurs under a thick blanket of snow on your roof that cannot be seen from the ground. As the water runs off, it freezes near the edges because the last 6 to 18 inches of your roof is colder.
- Mild daytime winter temperatures
Winter days with temps slightly above freezing with nights that fall below 32 degrees can result in a cycle of thawing and freezing on your roof, contributing to the buildup of ice.
- Flat-pitched roofs
Roofs with angles at a flatter pitch are more susceptible to ice dams than steep roofs since water doesn’t drain as effectively.
- Deep snow piles
Thin patches of snow on occasion are not a concern. Substantial snowfall producing 4 to 6 inches or more on your rooftop can be dangerous, especially when you throw in other conditions that lead to ice dam formation into the mix.
How To Prevent Ice Dams?
Don’t let ice dams damage your home. The constant thawing and freezing may lead to water entering your home, resulting in costly repairs. Fortunately, there a couple of things you can do to help prevent ice dams from forming:
- Check the ventilation and insulation in your attic
A properly insulated and ventilated attic is key to avoiding extensive roof repairs or a home roof replacement due to ice dams. Check your attic insulation for gaps and add more insulation. Also check around pipes or vents and fill with insulation or caulk. If you notice a damaged roof vent, contact your local roofing professional for help.
- Keep your gutters clean
Gutters serve an important function besides letting rain water wash away; they also help prevent ice dams from forming. Clean gutters allow melting snow and ice to wash away from your roof before they can re-freeze and lead to bigger problems.
Need a New Roof?
Your attic and roof are crucial when it comes to protecting your home from the elements, especially in the winter. If you need a home roof replacement soon, contact your local, trusted roofing professional at Armorvue Home Exteriors for a virtual appointment.