WHAT IS AN ICE DAM?
An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof at the gutter and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas.
WHAT CAUSES ICE DAMS?
Ice dams occur, typically on a sloped roof, during sub-freezing temperatures after heavy snowfall. Warm air in the attic heats the roof which then melts the snow from the bottom (snow closest to the roof surface). The melted snow water runs down the roof and refreezes when it reaches the gutter, forming a mound or damn of ice that blocks subsequent meltwater to seep under roof shingles and into the home often leading to significant damage causing wet and stained ceilings, walls, peeling paint, and wood rot.
WHAT DO ICE DAMS LOOK LIKE?
From the outside of the building, you may notice a buildup of ice and icicle at the gutter. Ice buildup can cause gutters to bend, break, and pull away from the building and fall off due to a weight of the ice. From inside you may notice stains on the ceiling near an outside wall or stains on inside walls.
HOW TO PREVENT ICE DAMS
Preventing ice dams is often far more cost-effective than repairing the damage caused by ice dams. There is one major factor leading to ice dams – attic heat. Manage the heat in your attic during winter to dramatically reduce the risk of ice dams.
Prevent Ice Dams by keeping your attic cool as follows:
1) Good attic ventilation prevents heat buildup in the attic, thus reducing rapid snowmelt on the roof which is how ice dams are formed.
2) Foam seal all attic penetrations, like canned lighting and other air gaps, to block heated air from flowing into the attic.
3) Check your attic insulation. Adequate attic insulation will dramatically slow heat transfer from living spaces during winter months.
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