Ice Dams – What They May Be Telling You

Ice Dams signal issues with your roof insulation or ventilation
Icicles on the eaves of your home are quite often a sign that ice dams are forming on your roof. In most cases, an ice dam will form on a roof that is covered in snow, when the roof overhangs remain close to the air temperature. The snow that is melting from higher points on the roof melts and travels down to the eaves where it freezes once again. Whenever this happens, it should be dealt with before water collects above the dam, eventually making into your house.

In addition to causing its own problems, an ice dam is often an indicator of other issues that should be addressed. One of the best ways of dealing with ice dams is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Here are a few of the main causes of ice dams.

  • One of the best things that you can do is to stop heat from leaking out of your living space and into the attic where it can heat your roof, leading to ice dam formation. One way to do this is to improve your insulation. This insulation is typically added over the ceiling, both directly below the attic as well as in areas that have no attic space above them. In addition to reducing your chances of ice dam formation, this can also lower your heating bills.
  • Another cause of ice dam formation is improper attic ventilation. In order for your attic to maintain a healthy temperature, it is necessary that you have a natural ventilation path that allows air to enter soffits under your eaves, and exit from vents installed in the peaks of your roof. This helps to keep your entire roof at a more constant temperature which can greatly reduce the number of ice dams that form.

In conjunction with addressing these two main causes of ice dams, you must naturally remedy the immediate problem at hand. Start by addressing the immediate issue (the ice dam itself) and then get in touch with a professional roofing company to review your ventilation and insulation. The following steps will help get you started:

  1. Remove all snow from the eaves of your roof and directly above the ice dam. Rather than using ladders, which can be dangerous during the winter, make use of a roof rake or other tool that you can use from the ground. Always take care not to come into contact with any power lines or damage any shingles or other roofing materials. Whenever thick layers of snow collect on your roof, it can insulate your roof, leading to warmer temperatures than the ambient air temperature. This can cause the snow to melt even if the weather is below freezing outside.
  2. Call a local roofing professional to help you remove the ice. Although this can be much more expensive than doing it yourself, you eliminate the risk of damage to your roof and be confident that it has been done right. Whenever you need the damage assessed quickly, this is definitely the way to go.
  3. For a temporary fix, use a fan to bring outside air into your attic. This can help you keep the temperature from getting too warm on your roof. Keep in mind that this is a very temporary solution.

Regardless of the steps that you take to address the ice dam, it is paramount that you listen to what this is telling you and have the underlying issues in your roof and attic addressed by a local professional. This can save you time, frustration and the extensive damage caused by an ice dam left untreated.

Have you seen icicles forming on your roof?

Posted in Ice Dams.

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