What is Ice Damming?

What is Ice Damming?

If you live in a cold area prone to snowfall, chances are you have seen an ice dam. It is a thick ridge of ice that forms along the eaves of homes and can cause millions of dollars of structural damage each year. While these icicles can sometimes look charming, ice dams can tear off gutters, loosen roof shingles, and even cause water to back up into your house. So, how are ice damns formed? It is not one thing, but several factors that fall into place that lead to their formation.

First, heat collects in the attic and warms the roof (except the eaves) to a temperature that is above 32 degrees. This causes the snow on the roof to melt and freeze as it rolls down to the cold eaves. Ice then begins to accumulate along the eaves, forming a dam. Meltwater from the warm roof continues to back up behind it, finding cracks in the openings of the exterior roof covering and flowing into the attic space. From there, the water could even flow through the ceiling insulation and stain the ceiling finish.

Before ice dams can cause unpleasant and costly damage to your home, it is important to take action to prevent them. The key lies in making sure that you keep your attic and roof cold so that snowfall does not melt. The best way to do this is by closing up any air leaks in your attic caused by gaps in the drywall, unblocked walls, and cracks around light fixtures, plumbing pipes, and chimneys. You can use foam, caulk, and other methods to seal these bypasses. Once you have blocked all of the trouble spots, it is a good idea to add more insulation on the attic floor to keep heat where it belongs. If you don’t know how much insulation your attic needs, you can check with your local building department.

If an ice dam has already formed on your roof, you will be relieved to know that there is a way that you can mitigate the problem before it gets worse. The most effective – and safe – option is to pull off snow with a long-handled aluminum rake while you are standing firmly on the ground. A rake with wheels is especially useful at getting the snow and ice off without damaging your shingles.

At Advanced Window Systems, LLC (AWS), we can help you with all of your home improvement needs and make sure that your house is thoroughly protected from damage year-round. Contact us today for more information.


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