Most homeowners in the colder, snowy States would have seen or experienced an ice dam at some time or another. While they may make your home look like something magical out of Frozen, they can (and will!) wreak havoc on your property.

So, what exactly causes ice dams? Ice dams are a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (aka water) from flowing off the top. For starters, very severe ice dams can put a tremendous amount of weight and pressure on your roof, compromising the structure of the roof itself and the roof eaves. On top of this, water collects behind the dam and gradually seeps beneath the roof shingles. This excess water can then leak into your home and cause water damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas.

As heat escapes your home’s various living areas, it slowly warms the blanket of snow that’s sitting on top of your roof. As the snow melts, it drains down the roof’s slope only to refreeze on top of the roof overhang. The ice then begins to build up, and the thawing and freezing cycle continue resulting in big blocks of ice thickly covering your home’s roof eaves.

Lucky for homeowners, ice dams are mostly preventable. And preventing ice dams is all about managing the thermal levels within your home. If the air in the attic or against the bottom of the roof deck remains cold, it won’t melt the snow lying on top of the roof and therefore eliminating the water that creates ice dams. This will also help you avoid resulting water damage such as leaks, stains, blistering paint, warped wood, and mold infestation. Below, we take a look at a few ways to help prevent ice dams from occurring in the first place. Take note, there is no single solution here, and preventing ice dams is likely to be a combination of the following:

7 Ways To Help Prevent Ice Dams

  1. Rake It Off: You can pull off snow with a long-handled aluminum roof rake while you remain safely on the ground. Remember, it’s way too risky to climb on your roof and rake the snow from up there! Removing the snow will instantly change the exterior temperature of your roof without damaging shingles.
  2. Use Heated Cables: Heated cables that attach along your roof’s edge will help prevent ice dams that lift shingles and cause leaks. This solution allows you to equalize your roof’s temperature by heating it from the outside instead of blowing in cold air from the inside.
  3. Ensure Adequate Ventilation: Your roof needs to be vented both at the eaves and the peak, either in the roof itself or via vents in your home’s end walls. Above the ceiling or attic insulation, the air space will allow cold air to move freely, keeping the roof cold and preventing the snow cover from melting.
  4. Install a Snow and Ice Shield: There are several products available on the market that, when installed beneath your roof’s shingles, will cover the overhang of the roof and will prevent water from working its way into the home. These products are readily available online and at your local hardware stores.
  5. Cap the Hatch: If you have an unsealed attic hatch, a weather stripping cap will keep the heat in your home and prevent it from making its way into the attic. Remember, you don’t want warm air coming up into the attic and melting snow on the roof, causing the ice dams.
  6. Exhaust to the Outside: Ensure that all the various ducts in your home that are connected to things like the kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents all lead outdoors through either the roof or walls and not through the soffit.
  7. Check Insulation: Proper insulation of the attic rafters or ceiling joists is another way to help prevent water dams from forming on your roof. Extra insulation will prevent warm air from rising up into the attic space to melt snow on the roof.

So, there you go. We hope these seven tips help prevent ice dams from occurring on your home’s roof–and prevent avertable water damage.

How We Can Help

If you do face water damage from an ice dam (or any water damage for that matter), Restoration 1 is here to help. Available 24/7 for emergencies day or night, Restoration 1 is ready to assist whenever disaster strikes. Once a call is logged, our team will mobilize quickly and be on-site within an hour. Whether it’s water damage from a burst pipe, a flood, or a leaking faucet, Restoration 1 is trained and certified to professionally and efficiently mitigate water damage as well as prevent mold infestations that can often follow residential or commercial water damage.

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Need help with professional water damage restoration or mold removal? Contact our friendly and certified team of experts at your local Restoration 1. To find your nearest Restoration 1 branch or for more information about our other property restoration services, visit our website today.