Ice Dams: What are they and what can a Homeowner do to prevent them?
Q) What are ice dams?
A) Ice dams are a ridge or build-up of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melted snow (water) from draining off a roof. The water backs up behind this dam and then can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas. Ice on roof creates hazardous situation that carries great risk to both damage the property and people.
Q) What causes ice dams?
A) Ice dams are caused from a combination of things coming together. If there is a heat loss from the interior of the house, snow cover on the roof, and an outside temperature that lends itself to ice dam formation, you are more likely to or have had ice dams. Deeper snows and colder temperatures increase the likelihood and size of the ice dams.
Q) What damage can they do to my house?
A) More common damages to your house are: gutters fallings off because of heavier weight of the ice, water damage to the interior drywall, wet and compacted insulation, and interior/exterior paint blisters.
Q) How do I rid my house of ice dams?
A) Well, there is a temporary fix that consists of removing the snow from the roof with a roof rake that is available from home centers or hardware stores. Remember…safety first!
Q) Is there a permanent solution to get of ice dams?
A) Yes, ice dams can be prevented by controlling the heat loss from the home by increasing the ceiling or attic insulation. You may also try to make the ceiling air tight. For example, by sealing light fixtures and penetrations into the ceiling or drywall. Natural roof ventilation can help maintain consistent roof temperatures.
Q) What if my new roof leaks because of ice dams?
A) Most new roofs are installed with ice/water shield at the valleys and gutter edges of the house for additional protection. If your house is not new, but has a new roof, you still face the chance of having a ice dam damage your home unless you address the insulation, sealing of your ceiling penetrations, and ventilation of your attic.
Any person on the roof during the winter or performing work on the roof from top or below is risking bodily injury and damage to the roof and house.
Whenever a house is tightened (weatherized or sealed), the ventilation system, exhaust ductwork, and combustion devices must have enough air to operate safely. Please consult professionals.