What is an Ice Dam?
You may be able to take an educated guess from the name, but an ice dam is a build-up of ice at the edge of a roof that blocks the flow of water off the roof. Ice dams form when water from melting snow runs down the surface of the roof and then refreezes at the edge.
What Causes an Ice Dam?
At a very basic level, ice dams are caused by non-uniform temperatures across the roof and the outside environment. Typically, this is a result of poor attic insulation which allows the warm air from inside the home to heat the upper levels of the roof, causing snow to melt and run down the roof. When this meltwater reaches the lower levels of the roof it begins to freeze as it reaches the cold, outer edges and eventually builds up into an ice dam.
Signs of Ice Dams
How can you tell if your roof has an ice dam? There are a few common signs that you can look for:
- Excessive icicles along the roof’s edge and behind the gutters.
- Visible ice build-up, which will look like a small hill or mountain of ice, on top of the gutters and at the edge of the roof.
- Ice and icicles protruding through the soffit vents or the soffit itself.
- Visible ice or water along the home’s siding.
- Visible ice or water inside or around a window frame.
Damage Caused by Ice Dams
So, what’s the big deal? It’s just ice, right? Unfortunately, ice dams can cause major damage to both the interior and exterior of your home. If you have an untreated ice dam, some damage you can expect to see on your roof includes:
- Loose and lifting shingles
- Bent and broken shingles
- Bent and falling gutters
The roof damage that ice dams will cause will eventually lead to interior damage as well. Water backs up under the shingles, leading to:
- Wet insulation
- Damaged ceilings and drywall
- Peeling and staining
- Warped ceilings and floors
- Microbial growth
Preventing and Repairing Ice Dams
Ice dams are an unfortunate risk of living in a colder climate, so being prepared for them is the key to keeping your home safe. Knowing how to prevent them and what to do to remove them and repair the damage if they occur will be exceptionally helpful for the safety and longevity of your roof.
Ice Dam Prevention
Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It’s safe to say that he certainly wasn’t wrong! The best course of action when it comes to ice dams is to attempt to prevent them.
As mentioned at the start of this article, ice dams are essentially caused by non-uniform roof temperatures. This means that the best prevention measure is to solve this problem.
- Ensure the attic has appropriate ventilation for the circulation of warm air.
- Seal the ceiling as much as possible to prevent the flow of warm, moist air from the house into the attic space.
- Increase ceiling and/or roof insulation to decrease heat loss.
Winter is already rearing its head, so it may be too late for long-term prevention, but there are some things you can do to mitigate the formation of ice dams even if your ventilation isn’t in perfect shape to prevent them.
- Always remove the snow from your roof, so it doesn’t have the opportunity to melt.
- Install heated cables along the roof’s edge to help equalize the temperatures from the top of the roof to the edge.
Ice Dam Removal and Repair
When dealing with ice dam removal and damage repair, your best bet is to call on a professional Lake County roofing company like Cittrix Roofing to remove the ice dam, prevent further damage, and repair existing damage. While there are some things you can do yourself once the ice dam has formed, ice dam removal can be a hazardous endeavor if you don’t know what you’re doing.
When an ice dam has already formed there are tried-and-true de-icing methods that will help diminish the risk of water damage, such as laying a tube sock or pantyhose filled with ice melter across the dam to create a channel for water to flow. Never attempt to chip or hack away at the ice or throw uncontained salt on the roof as both of these will result in further damage.
Whether you’re looking to make repairs to prevent ice dams this winter or you have an ice dam that needs to be removed, Cittrix Roofing can help! Call today to see what we can do for you!