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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Preventing Ice Dams

12/2/2020 (Permalink)

If you've lived in a cold climate for more than a year, you have probably heard of the dreaded ice dam. An ice dam is an ice build-up on the eaves of sloped roofs of heated buildings that results from melting snow under a snow pack reaching the eave and freezing there. This can result in roof damage, where the water and ice can enter your home or business causing untold amounts of damage to the interior. Luckily, there are some things you can do to prevent this.

1)Add insulation

Adding additional insulation to an attic floor, or replacing outdated material, will greatly help keep the heat where it belongs and not seeping out into your home or the exterior. If you're not sure what to buy or how to install it, call a professional and ask for an inspection.

2)Proper ventilation

Paring ridge vents with soffit vents (and properly spacing them) can help circulate air beneath your roof and keep the heat from melting the snow and leading it to freeze on your eaves. Baffles on the eaves can also help keep airflow clear.

3)Exterior exhaust

Make sure to check that all indoor vents (dryer, bathroom, kitchen hood etc.) are all leading to the top of the roof or through the walls. If these are being routed though the soffit you could easily run into a situation that too much heat is reaching below the roof, in turn leading to melting and refreezing that ice dams like so much.

4)Close the hatch

An open attic hatch can lead to heat moving to areas you don't want it. Closing this hatch, and in many cases sealing it with weather strips or something similar, is an easy and effective way to guard against ice dams.

5)Install ice dam prevention products

When all else fails, or when your type of roof for whatever reason is hard to keep cold, the final step would be to install a product on your roof specifically designed to combat the formation of ice dams. More simply, these could be a type of adhesive water-and-ice barrier that you can run 3 to 6 feet up from your gutters, or if the problem is severe, installing heating lines near the eaves that will make it physically impossible for ice to form. You can commonly see these types of products on commercial buildings where the roof may be 3 stories up, but they are available for residential homes as well. Take a look at what is available and get a second opinion if you are unsure.

More than anything, you should keep a close eye on your roof. If you see large icicles forming, or lumps of ice near the eaves, you could be in danger of ice damming and the damage that can come along with it. Don't wait and hope it melts off-- it may not until the spring. 

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