What is Ice Damming and how does it affect my roof?

ice dam

 

Perhaps you have heard the term “Ice Dam” or “Ice Damming” and are not sure what exactly that is or how it affects your home. We have the answers for you.

An ice dam refers to a rim of ice that forms at the edges of your room and gutter systems that prevent water and melting snow to run off the roof (drain) properly. The water backs up and can cause damage to the roof, interior walls, insulation, ceiling, around windows as well as other areas. Ice dams can also be dangerous as when they break loose, sharp ice and icicles can fall to the ground potentially harming people or pets.

Mold and mildew problems caused by ice dams.

Not only does an ice dam cause damage to your home but it can also cause a health hazard with mold and mildew growth. The moisture and water leaking into the house will soak into the walls, insulation, and drywall. When this happens long enough, mold spores and mildew begin to grow.

How are ice dams formed?

Ice dams are formed when the higher portions of the roof are above 32°F while lower surfaces are below 32°F. The water at the more moderate portion freezes and the more elevated portion runs down to the lower portion backing up behind the ridge adding to the ice dam.

How does the roof maintain two different temperatures?

Heat rises. When the heat rises if the insulation on the inside of the attack space or in a variety of roofing areas is not sealed properly the top of the roof will become warmer than the edges of the roof. The heat loss also prevents the home from heating fulling and increases home energy costs.

How do you prevent ice damming?

To prevent ice dams from forming it is important to check the insulation levels in your attic as well as make sure that your roof, soffits, and vents are all sealed properly. It is also essential to make sure that your gutters are free of debris and corrosion as this can cause the water from draining correctly. Roof shingles should be well maintained and lose shingles and rotting boards replaced. Flashing around the chimney should be sealed well.

How do I clear an ice dam that is already formed?

Safety is critical in this area as that when you are removing an ice dam, you can quickly be hit with massive clumps of ice that roll off the roof. A roof rake is preferred if you have one or to call an expert to remove the ice dam to prevent further damage or injury.

What is the best type of insulation to use in my attic to help prevent ice dams?

Every home is different as to what kind of insulation works the best for your particular home. Homes with angled ceilings and no attic, roofs with skylights, flat roof dormers and low-slope roofs are especially challenging to vent at a proper level to prevent the ice dams from forming. To understand which options are best for your home it is best to ask an expert such as High Quality Contracting to review your situation.

If you would like to schedule an appointment to review your ice damming problem, please contact us here.