Preventing Ice Dams on your Roof

The formation of ice dams on the roof can spell disaster for any homeowner and is an issue that must be solved quickly.  Ice dams are the name referring to the buildup of ice on the eaves of the roof which can cause standing water to be caught on the shingles.

How do ice dams form?

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An ice dam forms as heat from the home escapes through the roof and causes the snow that is on top of the roof to melt.  As the melt water runs down the roof, it cools when it hits the parts of the roof that are not heated from the home, usually the eaves of the roof, and refreezes, causing the buildup of more and more ice until an ice dam has formed and has completely blocked the flow of melting water from the roof.

How to avoid ice dams

When water is left standing on the roof, it has the potential to erode shingles and leak into the home, cause great amounts of water damage to both the roof of the home and possibly the interior of the home as well. But this damage can be avoided if the homeowner will take the appropriate steps in avoiding the buildup of ice dams.

  1. Secure the attic insulation.  Insulating the attic of the home will allow less heat to escape and thereby largely eliminate the staggered snow melt that leads to ice dams.
  2. Create ventilation.  Both on the roof itself and from the attic through the roof at the corners, creating and installing ventilation will allow for the warm air to escape the sides of the home while allowing for cold air to run up the length of the roof to keep the snow cold and safe.
  3. Cap any hatches on the roof.  Ceiling fans, attic hatches and other such openings allow for warm air to escape in droves.  Sealing or capping these openings effectively will greatly reduce the amount of melt-water that has the potential to form an ice dam.
  4. Install snow clips.  Snow clips will help to retain the snow on the roof and will discourage the formation of ice dams by holding snow in place and allowing for an even and natural melt.

 

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