Protect Your Home from Ice Damming this Winter

It's that time of year again, time to start thinking of ways to protect your home during the cold/freezing winter months. If you are like many homeowners, you might be concerned about the amount of ice damming damage that could occur to your home this year. Ice damming to a roof, shingles, and even the interior of a home can lead to costly repairs. Is your home one of those where ice damming occurs, and you are just getting around to thinking about the significant problem it could cause this winter? Now is the time to go ahead and get ready to rectify the problem before winter sets in. Here are some important facts to know about ice damming.

Ice Damming

Although some people are unfamiliar with the terminology, ice damming, they definitely know what it looks like when they see it. Ice damming occurs when a large pile of ice forms on the edge of the roof of a house or building. The large icicles are pretty to look at, but often leave behind a lot of trouble for unprepared homeowners. Not only does ice damming cause damage to the outside of the home, but it can be disastrous to the inside as well. 

What Makes Ice Dams form?

After a snowstorm, ice dams form when the roof gets warm enough to melt the under layer of snow on the roof.  The highest layer of the roof's surface is often above 32 °F, and the lower surface is usually below 32 °F when the dam forms. The water will slowly fall between the roof and the shingles until it reaches the part of the roof that overhangs along the home, that is usually still frozen because of the way it extends beyond the house. The water will then freeze again and grow into a large mound of ice. Usually, gutters can also trap the ice and snow, if it builds, this then becomes the perfect foundation for an ice dam. 

Damages Caused by Ice Damming

Ice damming can cause a significant amount of damage if it becomes large enough, and the water melts back up and flows underneath the shingles. This will usually cause water to enter a home's insulation and down into a home ruining sheetrock and paint. Some large ice dams can break free and pull down shingles and gutters, anything or anyone caught underneath when this happens could be hurt or damaged. Not to mention, ice damming can also cause your roof to become saggy. Insulation and the roof sheathing left dampened by the water often begins to have mildew problems.

How to Prevent an Ice Dam

To prevent ice damming from occurring it is best to get an early start on winterization for your home. Be sure your gutters are cleaned out. If possible, install a water-repellent roof covering. Ventilate the attic properly to keep it from becoming too hot in the winter.  However, if you are already dealing with snow, it is best to scrape snow from the roof as it begins to fall. It is crucial to get as much snow off the roof before the temperature drops and it begins to freeze. This method can be dangerous, extremely time-consuming, and not easy for every homeowner to do. If you do not have experience at clearing your roof yourself, beware, you can end up buried under mounds of snow. The tasks can also be quite dangerous for those using a ladder in the snow roof. It is best to hire a professional roofer to help with the clearing tasks or to help prevent the problem from recurring.

How to Deal with Existing Ice Dam Problems

If you plan to remove the ice dam on your own, it is important to break it into small pieces. Avoid using sharp tools such as an ax to break the chunks of ice to keep from damaging your roof or shingles. Do not rush the job, it is dangerous, and preferably should be removed by a professional. Do not be alarmed if parts of your shingles come off with the ice, even while trying to remove it safely. Make sure all gutters are cleared, leaves and any other debris that snow could continue to build upon should be removed.  Also, avoid using rock salt, this will damage metal, paint, and plants wherever the water drains. When in doubt, call in the roofing professionals to assist with the ice damming problem.

Identifying the Bigger Picture

Remember, there is a bigger picture to the cause of the ice damming on your roof.  The methods used by you to take care of the immediate problem, does not take care of the underlying cause. It is crucial to know the cause to prevent it from reoccurring in the future. You do not want to be dealing with the same problem next winter. Most often, the cause of your ice dam problem is your warm attic having poor insulation and venting. When the attic in your home is under-insulated, your home lacks the thermal barrier between your living space and attic. It is crucial to get your attic insulation levels raised to ensure the attic is not being heated by your home's furnace which causes ice dams to form. Once this problem is rectified by a professional service, you shouldn't have the problem any longer.

Hire a Professional Insulation Service

The best time to call a professional attic service is before the winter sets in.  Most services offer a free estimate on attic insulation and air sealing for a home. A professional team member will work with you to get the services needed.  They will also work to make sure your home is protected from ice dams with high-quality insulation and the proper air sealing. Most of these professionals deal with ice damming often, so they know the importance of safety-proofing your home from ice damming and saving you expensive repair costs in the future. To find out more about how you can permanently take care of your homes' ice damming problem, contact us today. 


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