All About Ice Dams

Friday, October 20th, 2017 by Jessie Gustafson

As winter approaches in New England, we all are forced to deal with the dreaded snow. We all know that snow removal from rooftops is extremely important. As you may know, snow becomes extremely heavy and can cause damage as well as leaks. Something that you may not be familiar with is an ice dam.

What is an ice dam?

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms on the edge of the roof and prevents melting snow and water from draining. The water that backs up behind the dam can cause damage to the ceilings, walls and insulation of your home. It can tear off gutters and loosen shingles.

How does an ice dam form?

An ice dam forms from the rooftop of a home or building being warm, the water running off and hitting the cold edge of the roof and freezing. There must be three things present for an ice to form:

1. Snow on the roof

2. Higher parts of the roof must be above 32◦F

3. The lower parts of the roof will be below 32◦F

 Poor ventilation in the attic can also cause ice dams. A lot of warm air in the attic can make the snow on your roof melt regardless of the temperature outside.

How to tell if you have an ice dam:

Icicles are a good indicator of a possible ice dame. Any shape or size along the edge of your roof and/or your gutters. Water dripping or icicles forming on the exterior surface of your home is also a sign. Any water penetrating the interior of your home (walls, ceilings, and or windows) is also an obvious sign as well.

How to remove ice dams:

Removing an ice dam from your roof immediately after spotting the signs can be critical to helping prevent damage to your home. Calcium chloride ice melt. This will melt the ice slowly and efficiently, just make sure to have a clear path for the water to escape. DO NOT use rock salt, this will affect the siding and/or paint on your house. Breaking up the ice with a soft mallet will give you the ability to remove the ice in big slabs. You could also Hire a contractor this is the safest way to have an ice dam cured.

How to prevent ice dams:

The best way to prevent an ice dam is to make sure the ceilings and floors in your home are properly insulated. Heat escaping and creating a warm roof is the main source of an ice dam.  There are precautions that you can take such as removing the snow from your roof with a snow rake, you can also install and Ice-and-water barrier, making sure your gutters are clear before winter by getting rid of the leaves before winter and make sure they drain properly. 

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