Winters can be difficult when it comes to added stress on your home’s exterior. When the freezing temperatures clash with melting snow at the eaves of your roof you can have an even more problematic situation on your hands. An ice dam can cause major damage to your roof and your home’s façade. It also is a major safety risk to anything below the roof edge.
How Ice Dams Form
When a ridge of ice forms at the edge of your roof, also known as an ice dam, the snow that is melting during the day has nowhere to go. Ice dams are commonly caused by melting snow re-freezing at the eaves of the roof where there is typically little to no insulation underneath. When you combine this phenomenon with a gutter that isn’t able to drain because of the same freezing issues, a dangerous situation develops.
The ice can expand back into your home and under your shingles and roof decking if not properly sealed. Any home or sections of a roof without gutters can develop ice dams. While there are ways to break up the ice, doing all you can to keep them from happening in the first place is the only true remedy.
If you already have ice dams, you will need to break or melt the ice to allow the remaining snow and moisture to drain from your roof. You can do this by using a blunt object to break up small sections of the ice to safely remove them from your roof’s edge. This is dangerous and tedious work that needs to be done properly to not cause any additional damage to your home. There is also calcium chloride ice melting compounds that can be used to melt the ice. Once you can access your gutters, be sure to clear them and your downspouts of any debris so water can flow away from your home.
How to Prevent Ice Dams
A combination of better insulation and venting in the attic and eaves is the only real way to prevent ice dams from forming on your roof. The first step is to ensure that the heat from your home’s living area is not leaking into the spaces immediately below the roof sheathing. With proper insulation above and around the living space, you’ll prevent conduction and convection of heat through the ceiling. You also must ventilate the space between the insulation and the roof sheathing so any heat that does leak through can dissipate. If your ice dams seem to originate at your gutters, the most important thing you can do is clean your gutters once or twice a year to make sure that they are draining properly.
PJ Fitzpatrick Can Help Protect Your Home from Ice Dams