Winter is almost here, and so is the snow and freezing temperatures that accompany it. As you prepare your home for the winter season, there is one seasonal culprit you may not be ready for; the ice dam.
As a leading roof repair contractor in Mt. Holly, NJ, Elegant Exteriors, LLC has built our reputation on excellent customer service and the use of high-quality roofing materials. Through years of experience, we have found the best ways to effectively counter issues with ice dams in your roof.
Ice dams are the accumulation of ice on the lower portions of a building’s roofline. They are typically very heavy and can compromise the structure of your roof. Additionally, they can cause damage by pushing water up into shingles and down into the interior of your home. While it sounds catastrophic, there are some steps you can take to mitigate the effects of ice dam damage.
How Does an Ice Dam Form?
An ice dam will form when the snow melts on a warm, upper portion of the roof. The liquid water then travels down towards an eave overhang, where it refreezes. As this process continues, ice continues to accumulate on the eave blocking snowmelt from running off the roof. As the problem intensifies, water will start to move upward through the shingles. Once the water has permeated the roof, it melts once more and leaks into the attic.
Water intrusion into the attic is something to be avoided at all costs. If an attic begins to retain water, your insulation is the first to be compromised. If the problem persists, water can start to leak through the ceiling into the living spaces below. This can leave you with costly repairs, or worse, a dangerous situation for you and your loved ones.
But how do you remedy this problem? Luckily, there are a few ways to both prevent and alleviate any damage related to ice dams.
Stopping an Ice Dam at the Source
The best way to stop ice dam damage is by controlling the air temperature in the attic. If an attic space becomes too warm, it will melt snow accumulation on the roof. To remedy this, there are several ways to prevent air from exceeding the freezing point when in contact with the roof:
- Roof deck ventilation: This will prevent the build-up of warm air by providing continuous ventilation on the underside of the roof.
- Increasing insulation: By adding insulation to your attic, you prevent warm air from leaving the living space and entering the attic.
- Addressing heat sources: Eliminate potential heat sources from the attic area.
By thoroughly examining your attic space and making the necessary changes to ensure cold air is circulating along the underside of the roof, you can reduce the chances of ice dam formation.
Removing an Ice Dam
Preventative measures are best taken during the spring and summer months. Yet, if you’ve neglected to correct any problems, there are a couple of things you can do to remove dangerous ice dams.
- Using a roof rake: If you’ve just experienced a winter storm, you can remove snow accumulation using a roof rake. You can drastically cut-down the changes of ice dam formation by removing 4ft of snow from the roof’s lower edge. Never climb onto your roof to remove excess snow.
- Using calcium chloride or ice melt: You can apply an ice melt product to an existing ice dam to safely thaw it.
- Chipping off the ice: It is never advisable to climb onto a roof to remove ice. It can also be dangerous to chip away at an ice dam while underneath it. You may be hit with heavy pieces as they fall. At this point, it is best to consult a professional to safely remove ice from the roof of your home.