Heavy snow fall, fluctuating temperatures and old roofs are the three perfect elements to create ice dams. Ice dams can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your roof and home as they encourage leaks. Here is everything you need to know about ice dams and your roof.
What is an ice dam?
An ice dam is created when there has been a heavy snowfall, followed by a rise in temperature. As the temperature rises the snow begins to melt. This allows water to flow down the roof. When the water reaches the edge of the roof the temperature is much colder as there is no warmth from the home or the snow. At this point the water freezes creating an ice dam.
Why is an ice dam problematic?
Once an ice dam forms it literally dams up further water from flowing freely from the roof. As a result the water is forced back along the roof edge. Water then flows under shingles and along the vulnerable edge of the roof.
What are the risks for ice dams?
There are a number of factors that can increase the risk for ice dams on your roof including:
Poor insulation: A poorly insulated roof will allow heat to escape quickening the melting process of the snow above.
Change in temperature: Warm weather following a large snow storm will cause the snow to begin to melt and trickle down the roof.
Sun exposure: If your roof is exposed to full sun this can also quicken the melting of the snow on your roof.
Poor gutter system: If your home has poorly placed gutters and eave troughs it can add to the formation of ice dams.
Can ice dams be prevented?
There are a number of ways you can help prevent ice dams from forming including:
Improve attic insulation to stop heat from leaving your home.
Make sure your attic is well ventilated so that the attic remains cooler and keeps snow from melting.
Make sure your gutters and eave troughs are lower than the slope of your roof so snow and ice can slide off freely.
Remove snow from your roof following a heavy snow fall. This is especially important if the temperature rises.
Install a leak proof membrane in your attic to stop leaks from entering your roof deck.
Professional snow removal is your best defense against the damage of ice dams.