Ice Dams 101
What is an ice dam?
An ice dam is a build-up of ice and snow on the edge of sloped roofs. Ice dams can cause significant property damage and health problems.
How do they form?
Ice dams form when snow accumulates and freezes at the edge of your roof. New rain and melted snow will flow down the slope of the roof and get to the eave, where other snow and ice is already piled. The piled snow creates an insulating layer, and freezes the new snow or rain, this forms a barrier which impedes the process of how water is normally supposed to flow off of the roof. This process keeps going, which can create many problems.
What is the problem?
Ice dams can cause physical damage to the structure of your home. Water can seep through the roof and cause water damage to the home. More importantly ice dams can cause toxic mold in homes. Water backed up behind the dams can leak into a home causing property damage and mold growth.
Why do they form on some roofs and not others?
A well-insulated attic will prevent ice dams from forming because the insulation will help keep heat where it’s supposed to be…inside your home! When an attic is poorly insulated, the heat will escape through the roof and cause snow or ice to melt. This doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but it is. The melting will only occur everywhere except for the eaves of the roof because the edges of the house are colder. This means that the water has nowhere to go except for into the ice dam.
How do I prevent an ice dam?
- The best way to prevent an ice dam is by properly insulating your home. This will save you headache from ice dams, and money on your heating bill!
- Getting rid of snow on your roof. Without snow present, an ice dam will most likely not form.
- Heated cables. These cables are attached on the edge of your roof in a zig-zag pattern and do a great job of preventing ice dams.
As always, we recommend hiring a professional to perform your home maintenance. Every situation is different, this is meant only as a guide to help inform you of general roofing situations and maintenance. This is not a complete and exhaustive list or statement of every possible scenario and problem that could arise. We will not be held liable for any damage or injury sustained directly or indirectly from the information provided in this or any of our other articles/posts.
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