As winter approaches and sweeps the Northeast with cold fronts and snowstorms, residents of the Hudson Valley have to suffer the most. While most of us are fretting about the frozen car or the pile of snow on the front porch, another culprit that builds right over our head is ice dams! This silent menace is a destructive force that can cause serious damage to the structure, roof, paint, gutters, and drywall of your house. It can even cause mold to build up on the ceiling! Ice dams should not be taken lightly. The sooner you learn to prevent it the better.
What causes ice dams?
An ice dam could form when 1) There is snow on the roof. 2) Average temperature is below 32 degrees. Indoor heating rises inside of our house through the ceiling and the attic remains warm. Warmth travels from the underside of the roof to the outer side, and it melts the snow that comes in close contact of the heat. When the melted snow freezes again, it creates a sheet of ice on the surface of the roof.
How does ice dam cause damages?
If snow keeps melting and refreezing, ice can make its way down to the edges of the roof and get under the shingles. From there it can melt again and leak into the home, exterior wall or attic. The damages caused by ice dams may not be apparent right away. But as the ice starts melting and dripping into the attic or the wall, insulation may get wet and lose its functionality. The paint on the walls and the ceiling may blister or peel as moisture tries to get out of the ceiling or wall cavities.
How to prevent ice dams?
Preventing ice buildup can be easy by keeping the temperature of the entire roof as the eaves. There are multiple ways of doing that. Here are few of the common steps that you can follow to prevent ice dams from building up on your roof:
- Gutters: Clean leaves and other debris from your gutters. This will help prevent ice build-up.
- Keep eaves and ridges well ventilated: Installing a ridge vent and combining it with continuous soffit vents help circulate cooler air under the roof. However, you need to make sure that the soffit vents and the ridge vents have the same size of openings. Ideally, the opening should measure at least 1 square foot for every 300 square feet of the attic floor.
- Seal: Seal air leaks and sealing duct air leaks in your attic to stop warm air leakage. After that step add additional insulation in your attic.
- Exhaust to the outside: You need to ensure that the ducts that are connected to the bathroom, kitchen and dryer vents, lead outside of the house through the walls or the roof, and never through the soffits.
- Heat tape/cables and de-icing systems: Roof and gutter deicing systems melt snow and ice and channel water safely away before it can cause damage. Some systems are equipped with temperature and moisture sensors.
Most importantly, do not get on your roof as it could be dangerous. Your safety should be number one. We also do not recommend you chipping or breaking ice dams as it could cause damage to the roof.
Until next time, have a wonderful week!