Preventing The Cause of Ice Dams

A key aspect of winter home maintenance that homeowners will need to understand is ice dam prevention. Ice dams can occur from fall through spring on the edge of the roof after a snowfall. These phenomena can cause damage to structures, for example, mold in the attic, which can be very severe. Here’s the way ice dams form, the way to prevent and eliminate ice dams, and that to call if a person should cause damage to your property. 

When snow accumulates to a roof, 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 key aspects may cause problems: the outside temperature and the temperature in your attic.

The warmer your loft is, the more melting will occur. But, once the outside air temperature is extremely low, the border of the roof remains below freezing and the water refreezes as it gets to that point. As more snow melts, additionally, it refreezes as it gets to the “ice dam,” along with also the dam keeps getting larger.

To make matters worse, ice dams are somewhat of a quiet destroyer, as water enters the home gradually. Also, it typically damages the loft area first, which is not a location that homeowners usually frequent. By the time you understand there is an issue, it is when the damage has spread from the loft and to different areas of the home.

What’s more, contrary to some popular opinions, gutters do not cause ice dams. But, an ice dam may extend into a gutter if weather conditions permit. So, how do ice dams be prevented in the first location? In many cases, the answer is… snow removal, insulation, and ventilation!

Ice Dam Prevention Tips

Eliminate the snow from your roof

It’s typical for homeowners to rev their snowblowers and dig their snow shovels after every winter snowfall to clear their driveways and sidewalks. But not to be ignored is that the snow which has also fallen on the home. Therefore, an integral suggestion to prevent an ice dam from forming is to regularly remove snow from your roof. Here are some roof snow removal hints :

  • Remove the first three to four inches of snow out of your roofline. This is best done using a roof rake or a long-handled brush that can let you take out the snow without the use of a ladder.
  • Make certain that downspouts are clear so that filtered water gets an opportunity to drain properly.
  • If your region has received more than a foot of snow, it’s best to clear not only the first three to four inches along your roofline, as much as possible.

Adding roof maintenance into your snow removal regimen is a terrific way to prevent ice dams after a snowfall, but you can find other more long-term solutions.

Insulate your attic

A well-insulated loft helps prevent the melt/freeze states in which ice dams form by maintaining the loft temperature lower. Since the most important cause of ice dams is a too hot loft, a fantastic ice dam prevention alternative is decreasing the attic temperature.

Installing additional insulation in the loft area is as simple as laying additional layers across the existing ones, or having more insulation blown in. But, there are limitations to this process, and it’s ideal to hire or consult with a professional roofer or insulation contractor.

Also, if you become aware of bare sections on your roof while the remaining part of the roof has snow, there may be insufficient insulation under the bare areas. To affirm this, have your attic inspected and then remedy the situation if needed.

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 well. This will help keep the heat out of the attic area and prevent ice dams.

Ventilate your attic

Even with optimum insulation, there is still heat leakage into the loft. That is when the value of loft ventilation becomes evident. Without adequate ventilation, heat will build up regardless of the quantity of insulating material.

First, inspect your attic to be sure the present vents have yet to be covered by insulation or other items.

The usual recommendation for venting is one square foot of vent for every 150 feet of attic floor space. If your house doesn’t have that ratio (many older houses don’t), hire a contractor to remedy the problem.

If your home doesn’t have vents, consider adding a valve port. Again, a professional roofer or builder can provide sound advice on the process. If you’re not sure about the state of your roof, speak to a specialist roofer for assistance or advice.

Eliminating ice dams

When an ice dam has shaped on your roof, that doesn’t mean that water damage and mold growth occurred in the house. Yet, it’s always best to take out the ice dam since you notice that, well before it has an opportunity to cause damage to your house. Safely eliminating an ice dam could be done in several ways:

  • Simply knocking an ice dam with a roof rake is often enough to dislodge it. Doing so allows water to drain. That will allow any standing water it is obstructing to drain properly.
  • As you never want to use rock salt on your roof, then you may use calcium chloride to melt the ice dam and allow water to once again flow freely.
  • Finally, another option is to hire a snow removal contractor to solve the problem.

Tip: Installing a water membrane underneath the roof shingles may act as extra protection. It will help prevent water from seeping into the construction.

For water damage restoration, contact PuroClean!

Now’s the time to make winter maintenance a priority. But even with ice dam prevention measures in place, you might still be vulnerable to an ice dam that could create a water reduction.

If you discover water damage (marks, drips, or lines) on ceilings or exterior walls, it might signify an ice dam has shaped, and ice and water have forced their way into your attic. Along with repairing the cause of the ice dam, it is important to recognize this is a legitimate water damage scenario.

The problem should be remediated by trained professionals to prevent further harm to the structure (such as rotting), also to prevent mold growth — a health hazard to people living in the house.

And that’s where your local PuroClean office will help in restoring your water-damaged property to a pre-loss condition, check their water page to learn more.

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