Prevent Ice Dams from Damaging Your Home

Those icicles hanging from your roof may look pretty, but they could be hiding a problem that can cause major devastation to your home — an ice dam. Ice dams are very destructive and can cause thousands of dollars of damage.

Behind the icicles, the ice that has formed may be acting as a barrier to water. If the water cannot drain, it can cause damage to not only your roof, but also your gutters, downspouts, ceilings, walls, and floors! The ice can actually build up to a point that it pushes your gutters away from your house and takes the fascia boards with them. Not to mention potential damage to joists and insulation. And on top of that, the moisture that is introduced into your home can cause mold to grow!

What Causes Ice Dams?

A combination of subfreezing temperatures, snow on your roof, and heat loss lead to ice dams. The heat from your home rises and melts the snow on your roof. The water then travels towards the gutters and eaves, where it refreezes. The water continues to do this, causing the ice to get bigger.

Eventually, the ice is big enough to block the flow of water over the edge where it was forming icicles. The blocked water will puddle behind the ice, where the roof will keep it warm. This water can seep under shingles and cause issues with insulation, ceilings, and walls.

Preventing Ice Dams

It’s easier to prevent an ice dam than to repair the damage caused by one. While you cannot control the temperature outside or snowfall, you can control heat loss. The amount of heat that escapes through your roof is affected by insulation and ventilation.

Talk to a roofing contractor to ensure that your roof is properly ventilated and your attic appropriately insulated. A contractor can install the proper vents and insulation as needed to prevent heat loss.

Some homes have rooflines that allow removal of snow buildup with a snow rake or similar long-handled device. Be very careful not to cause damage to shingles if attempting to remove snow from your roof.

If an Ice Dam Has Formed

If an ice dam has already formed, there is not much you can do about it. If there are no signs of leaks, leave it alone (monitoring for leaks) until it melts and then take steps to prevent the dam from forming again. If you try to break up the ice with an icepick or hammer, you could end up causing damage to your home.

Find a leak? It’s time to call the professionals. A roofer or other contractor can steam the ice dam to remove it carefully and help repair any damage to the roof. Once repaired, consult your contractor regarding ventilation and insulation to prevent another ice dam.

If you need assistance with an ice dam or would like a free consultation regarding roof ventilation or insulation, call Oaks Construction today at 585.247.OAKS!

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