An integral facet of winter home maintenance that homeowners will need to know is ice dam prevention. Ice dams can happen from fall through spring on the edge of your roof following a snowfall. These phenomena can cause damage to structures, for example, mold in the loft, which can be very severe. Here is how ice dams type, how to prevent and eliminate ice dams, and that to call if a person should lead to damage to your home.
How ice dams form
When snow accumulates on a roof, then a cycle of melting and refreezing happens. In an ideal world, the snow would melt off the roof, then enter the gutters, and flow harmlessly into the floor. However, two important aspects can cause difficulties: the outside temperature and the temperature in your loft.
The warmer your attic is, the more melting will occur. Ordinarily, the consequent water would leak off the edge of the roof. But, once the outside air temperature is extremely low, the border of the roof stays below freezing and the water refreezes as it reaches that point. This ice then creates a line, or “dam,” on the edge of the roof. As more snow melts, it also refreezes as it gets into the “ice dam,” and also the dam keeps getting larger.
To make things worse, ice dams are a bit of a quiet destroyer, as water enters the house gradually. Also, it typically damages the attic area, which is not a location that homeowners usually regularly. From the time you understand there is an issue, it’s when the harm has spread from the loft and to other areas of the house.
Furthermore, contrary to popular opinion, gutters don’t lead to ice dams. But, an ice dam may extend to a gutter if weather conditions permit. So, how do ice dams be prevented in the first place?
Ice dam prevention hints
Remove the snow from the roof
It is common for homeowners to rev up their snowblowers and dig their snow shovels after each winter snowfall to clear their sidewalks and drives. But to not be ignored is the snow that has fallen on the home. Here are some roof snow removal tips:
- Remove the initial three to four inches of snow out of your roofline. This can be best done using a roof rake or a long-handled brush which can permit you to remove the snow without using a ladder.
- Make sure that downspouts are clear so that melted water has an opportunity to drain correctly.
- If your area has received over a foot of snow, it is best to clear not just the initial three to four inches along your roofline, as much as you can.
Adding roof maintenance to your snow removal regimen is a terrific way to prevent ice dams after a snowfall, however, you can find other more long-term solutions.
Insulate your attic
A well-insulated loft helps prevent the melt/freeze states where ice dams form by maintaining the attic temperature lower. Considering that the most important reason for ice dams is a too warm attic, a fantastic ice dam prevention solution is lowering the attic temperature.
Installing additional insulation in the attic area is as easy as laying additional layers across the current ones, or even more, insulation is blown in. But, there are limits to this process, and it’s best to employ or consult a professional roofer or insulation contractor.
Furthermore, if you become aware of bare sections in your roof whereas the remaining part of the roof has snow, then there can be insufficient insulation under the bare areas. To confirm that, have your attic inspected and then remedy the situation if necessary.
You should also inspect the weather-stripping and/or insulating material on loft stairways or hatchways. Make sure it’s in good form and seals nicely. This can help keep the warmth out of the attic space and prevent ice dams.
Ventilate your attic
Despite optimum insulation, there’s still heat leakage into the loft. That is when the value of loft venting becomes apparent. Without adequate ventilation, heat will build up regardless of the amount of insulation.
First, inspect your attic to be sure the existing vents have not been covered by insulation or other items.
The typical recommendation for venting is one square foot of vent for every 150 feet of attic floor area. If your house doesn’t have that ratio (many older houses don’t), hire a contractor to remedy the issue.
If your house does not have vents, consider adding a valve port. Again, a professional roofer or builder can provide sound advice on the process. If you are not sure about the state of your roof, contact a professional roofer for assistance or advice.
Removing ice dams
If an ice dam has formed on your roof, that does not indicate that water damage and mold growth happened in the home. Yet, it’s always best to take out the ice dam since you notice that, well before it has an opportunity to cause harm to your house. Safely removing an ice dam can be done in several ways:
- Only knocking an ice dam with a roof rake is frequently enough to dislodge it. Doing so enables water to drain. Which will allow any standing water it’s blocking to drain correctly.
- As you never want to use rock salt onto your roof, you can use calcium chloride to melt the ice dam and permit water to once again flow freely.
- Finally, another alternative is to hire a snow removal contractor to solve the issue.
Tip: Installing a water membrane underneath the roofing shingles may act as extra security. It will help prevent water from seeping into the building.
For water damage restoration, contact PuroClean!
Now’s the time to make winter weather maintenance a priority. But even with all ice dam prevention measures in place, you may still be vulnerable to an ice dam that may create a water reduction.
If you notice water harm (marks, drips, or lines) on ceilings or exterior walls, it could signify an ice dam has shaped, and water and ice have forced their way into your attic. Along with repairing the cause of the ice dam, it is important to recognize that this is a true water damage scenario.
The issue ought to be remediated by trained professionals to prevent further harm to the structure (for instance, rotting), also to prevent mold growth — a health hazard to people living in the home.
And that is where your regional PuroClean office can help in restoring your water-damaged home to a pre-loss condition.