What Causes Ice Dams and How to Prevent Them

As problematic as they can be, ice dams are actually a common sight during heavy winter weather. It’s bad enough that this can damage your gutters and downspouts, but it can also pose a risk to your home as well. Ice dams can lead to expensive roof repairs, and even the interior will be threatened. If an ice dam builds up on your roof, you can take steps to protect the home, but it is still wiser to prevent them if possible. This is easier than most people realize.

What Causes Ice Dams?

This happens due to the combination of heat from the home and the cold weather outside. Warm air beneath the roof melts the snow, and this water starts to flow towards the edge. There it will encounter cold air which will freeze it. As more water runs down and freezes, the ice begins to build up. Some of this water may end up in the gutters, contributing even more to the ice dam.

Naturally, some of this water will not freeze right away, and when it doesn’t, it can get underneath the shingles. This will seep into the insulation, and eventually reach the ceiling and possibly the walls. Homeowners typically face damage like rot and the growth of mildew in these situations.

The bigger concern with ice dams is the weight of the ice and snow that gets trapped on the roof. This will be too much pressure for the structure and the gutters to deal with. This can tear off the gutters off, weaken the roof, or tear off shingles. It can lead to a dangerous situation where a lot of ice comes cascading off the roof.

How to Prevent Ice Dams

If you want to prevent ice dams from forming, you have to address the heat that is reaching the snow. Important steps to take are:

  • Make sure that walls are fully insulated to keep heat from going through the roof
  • Check the attic for spaces where warm air might leak through and seal them
  • If necessary, make adjustments to the roof to create vents to remove warm air escaping from the interior

You don’t need to have a steep roof to have ice dams, so never take this issue lightly. If you see ice building up, do not try to remove it all at once. Break small pieces at a time with a dull object. Something sharp can go through the ice and damage the roof.

One of the most important things to do is to clean gutters regularly to keep water from settling. If you notice any damage to the gutters or downspouts call us for repairs. We’re located in New Kensington and provide remodeling and home improvement services to homeowners in the Pittsburg area.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *