Ice Dam Prevention

  1. ICE Dam Prevention

With the winter weather comes the potential for the infamous ice dams and the water stains and leaks that follow. The following will help you identify the problem, as well as provide you with some common cures to prevent ICE DAMS from happening all together.

What is an Ice Dam? Its a build up of ice at the edge of the roof of your home, at the eave (where the soffit overhang is).

Why are they a problem? They tend to build up from snow melt and hold water behind the ice dam (thats why its called a dam) which then turns into a puddle that can work its way under your roof covering and into your home causing water damage.

Where do they come from? Many things lead to ice dam build up, but here are the basics: Layers of snow build up on your roof, the top layer acts much like a blanket, and the lower layer that is touching your roof covering becomes warm by heat build up in the attic below (this is caused by other issues that will be addressed later). This heat build up melts the under layer of snow, which then drips down the roof to the edge (eaves) where it is exposed to frigid winter air again. This melted snow then re-freezes and turns into large icicles, and ice dams over time. The continual melting then turns into a puddle behind the large ice chunk that builds up at the edge of the roof. TADA! Ice dam.

How do I fix this? The combative way to fix this issue is to have your roof shoveled, or roof raked which will limit the snow melt and ice build up as you are removing the snow from the roof. Another way is to have heat tape installed (not actually tape). This electrified wire gets hot and if installed at the eave where ice builds up, it will melt channels into the ice dam allowing the water to pass through these melted channels instead of building up behind the ice dam.

How do I prevent these darn ice dams all together? That is a better question. It will most likely require a professional to come to your home and assess the situation, but here are the basics: Since HEAT build up in the attic (or roof cavity) is actually what is causing the under layer of snow to melt on the roof, then controlling the heat build up is the key. A properly air sealed and ventilated attic/roof cavity will NOT ALLOW ICE DAMS to grow. Have you ever gone past your neighbors house and wondered why they didn’t have those huge a$% icicles on their home like you do? That is because their attic/roof cavity doesn’t build up heat (or they have a metal roof, but that’s another story). Preventing this heat build up is done in 2 ways. First, Providing unrestricted and FUNCTIONAL ventilation through the roof cavity with the use of vents like soffit vents and ridge vents or gable end vents. Second, eliminating air infiltration from the living space into the roof cavity/attic. Warm and humid air from the living space that gets into the attic is the cause of many issues, like ice dams and mold in the attic, so having all areas between the attic and the living space sealed appropriately is the best thing you can do. This would include sealing and insulating the attic access hatch, recessed lighting, bathroom vents (especially if they vent directly into the attic! This is a NONO), and any other areas that may be allowing heat or air to get into the attic/roof cavity.

Now that you know everything about ice dams, what will you do next to stop them???? Send us a text at 1-888-IN5PECT if you have any questions!