Ice dams are common during the winter months. They may appear harmless, but they can cause extensive damage to your roof. Ice dams can be prevented with proper venting and insulation.
Keep reading to learn more about the causes, signs, and prevention measures of ice dams.
What Is an Ice Dam?
An ice dam is a buildup of ice that forms at the edge of the roof or gutters. Water pools up behind the ice dams when the snow begins to melt. Ice dams prevent water from draining through your gutters, so water starts to seep under shingles through your roof and can cause damages, such as wet or stained walls and ceilings, or even peeled or bubbled paint.
What Causes an Ice Dam?
Factors that contribute to ice dams include:
- Heavy snowfall
- Water running down the roof that freezes when it reaches the colder roof edge
- Poor ventilation and temperature control
- Excess warm air in the attic that causes the snow on your roof to melt
- Recessed lighting and skylights
- Complex roof designs and heating ducts
What Are the Signs that You Have an Ice Dam?
Ice dams form when interior heat escapes and warms the roof. If not identified earlier, they can cause significant structural damage to your roof. You may have an ice dam problem if:
- Water seeps into your home and damages the interior
- You notice ice forming behind the soffit, under siding, and on exterior walls
- Your gutters are not draining properly
- You have snow and ice buildup on your roof
- Icicles form at the edge of the gutter or roof
- You could see dampness on ceilings or walls
How to Prevent Ice Dams
You can prevent roof damage if you prevent the ice buildups on your roof. Here are a few ways to prevent ice dams that lead to roof damage:
- Winterize your roof properly
- Have your gutters cleaned before winter
- Ventilate your attic, roof, and eaves
- Insulate your attic floor to reduce the amount of heat rising from the house
- Install a water-repellent roof membrane
- Hire a professional to clear the snow from your roof before it freezes
Check for any dangerous heat sources such as heating ducts, uninsulated folding attic stair openings, inadequate bathroom vent fans, and uninsulated recessed ceiling can lights. Make sure to fix these issues before winter.
How to Remove Ice Dams
Follow these tips to remove ice dams:
- Use a roof rake to scrape the snow if your roof has a low slope or is flat
- Apply ice-melting product onto the ice
- Place a box fan in the attic and direct it at the underside of the roof where water leaks. The cold air will freeze the water.
If these don’t work, hire a professional roofing contractor to remove the ice dams on your roof. They will scrape ice dams effectively and prevent further roof damage.