During winter, ice is great for skating, sledding, ice fishing, and other festive outdoor activities. But it is certainly not something you want to fuss with on your roof. Unfortunately, a great many homeowners have to face frosty precipitation building up on their rooflines, creating what are known as ice dams.
While you can endure the hassle of taking care of an ice dam once it’s already an issue, it is far better for the lifespan of your roof and other home exterior structures to do what you can to prevent ice dams from ever forming in the first place.
To help you achieve this, let’s break down how ice dams are formed so you can better understand how to prevent them from occurring.
What Is an Ice Dam?
While the name indicates what an ice dam is, it is truly important to have a full understanding of how one forms. An ice dam is a buildup of ice that occurs at the edge of a roofline. It prevents precipitation from being able to properly drain off your home.
Ice dams need two ingredients to form: precipitation and temperature differentiation. Let us break it down.
Heat rises. And as snow falls onto your roof, the heat from your attic causes the snow to melt and drain down the slope. The resulting water then meets the frigid air at the edge of your roof. And when that water comes in contact with that cold roofline, it freezes and builds up over time, creating a dam of ice.
Can It Cause Damage to My Home?
Ice dams can cause major damage to your roof, gutters, siding, and even your deck. Any backlogged water has the opportunity to make its way under shingles and get into the rafters, ceiling, drywall, insulation, and even siding of your home, especially if a quality water barrier was not laid under the shingles.
Ice is also dense, making it heavy. The bigger a dam gets, the more weight and strain it puts onto your roof and gutters. It can cause them to sag or break, not to mention that if the large block of ice becomes loose as it begins to warm up, it can fall and cause damage to decking, siding, or anyone standing underneath. So, taking care of ice dams when they form, or better yet, keeping them from ever occurring is important to the overall safety and care of your home.
Whether you need help preventing ice dam damage or your roof already needs repair, learn more about how our team can care for your home with our roofing services.
Preventing Ice Dams
Don’t let ice dams become an issue for your home. As a professional roofing contractor, we know there are some tips you can follow to prevent this issue.
Without sufficient insulation, the heat distribution in your attic during the winter may create warmer areas than others, and these heat pockets are enough to melt snow. But proper insulation can help reduce this risk and create a more even temperature distribution.
Ensure there is a sufficient layer of insulation on your attic floor, and if your home does not have an attic so that sections of your ceiling directly touch your roof, insulate your ceiling directly.
Proper ventilation may be the best deterrent for ice dams. In fact, most homes with properly ventilated attics (especially when coupled with adequate insulation) do not experience the formation of ice dams. So, if your home has this problem, ventilation may be the first issue to look into.
You’ll be looking for proper airflow and open channels from your soffits to your ridgeline. Both areas should have sufficient ventilation put in place. This allows the cold air from outside to flow into your attic while allowing the warm air to escape through the ridge. In turn, this will lower attic temperature and keep it closer to outside levels.
Seal Air Leaks
With or without insulation, various openings exist that allow air to leak through your attic. Everything from your attic door, plumbing pipes, recessed lighting, exhaust vents, chimneys, windows, and more have to run somewhere; and any that run through your attic have the potential to also allow unwanted airflow to travel around them. It’s important to seal the perimeter of these items to properly insulate your attic.
Keep Gutters Clear
To keep melted snow properly draining off your roof, ensure your gutters and downspouts have been thoroughly cleared out. Water runoff has a far greater chance of freezing when it becomes stagnant in a gutter.
Remove Snow Buildup
Eliminating snow from the equation can keep ice dams from forming or becoming too large. However, physically removing snow buildup should be a last resort. Not only can it pose certain risks, but it is also not a permanent solution. But if you need to remove snow for the time being, consider seeking the help of a professional to keep yourself safe.
A Clear Roof Brings Peace of Mind
Ensuring your roof is free from ice buildup not only keeps it functioning properly and helps prevent leaks, it also helps extend the lifespan of your roof and keeps your home properly protected.
If you suspect ice dams have formed on your roof, contact a professional roofing contractor immediately to help you properly clear the area. To care for your roof and gear your exterior up for the winter season, learn more about all of the exterior services Lakeside Renovation & Design offers to get your home into its best shape.