What Are Ice Dams? Everything You Need To Know

Roof Ice Dams

Ice Dams Can Cause Damage & Leaks

Anytime there is snow and cold weather, there is a chance of ice dams. When temperatures rise enough for the snow on rooftops to melt, the runoff sometimes freezes in thick bands at the eaves. This may occur as the result of improper insulation or simply due to temperatures that are above freezing during the day and plummet at night.

Regardless of the exact cause, ice dams are major problems. They lead to millions of dollars in structural damage yearly and can cause water-stained ceilings, peeling paint, dislodged roof shingles, sagging gutters and numerous other issues.

Ice dams are common in cold climates, but there are steps you can take to prevent them. There are also a few things you can do to minimize the damage even when an ice dam has already begun to form on your roof.

How to Prevent Ice Dams

The best way to prevent ice dams is by keeping your entire roof cold. Doing so usually requires improving your insulation. As warm air from your living space travels into your attic via leaks, it warms the attic and, therefore, your roof. To prevent this, all air leaks between your attic and living space need to be completely blocked. You may also need to increase the thickness of the insulation on your attic floor and install a continuous soffit and ridge vent system. Lastly, check to ensure that the air and insulation barrier is continuous.

While gutters are not responsible for causing ice dams, they can continue to the problem if they are not properly maintained. Gutters that are clogged with leaves and debris are more likely to already have standing water that will freeze as temperatures drop. Keep your gutters clean year-round to allow water to flow through freely to reduce the occurrence of ice dams.

Ice dams can also be prevented in many instances by simply removing the snow before it melts. Use a telescopic roof rake to safely remove snow from the lower portion of your roof without ever stepping foot on a ladder. Getting rid of some of the snow before it has a chance to melt and refreeze in your gutters is a good way to ensure that your roof stays free from ice dams.

Getting Rid of Ice Dams

Prevention is your best option when it comes to dealing with getting rid of ice dams, but if you already have one, there are things you can do to get rid of it an minimize your damage. One option is filling a nylon stocking with calcium chloride ice melt and placing it across the ice dam vertically. This will melt a channel through the dam and allow water to drain from your roof. Do not use rock salt, as it will damage your roof.

While it may be tempting, you should never attempt to break or chisel away an existing ice dam. In addition to risking potential damage to your roof, climbing a ladder to chisel away ice during the winter is extremely dangerous.

If your roof is prone to ice dams, call the Colorado roofers at 1derful Roofing for help. At 1derful Roofing, we are experts when it comes to preventing and getting rid of ice dams for good. To learn more, please call (303)984-7663.