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How to prevent ice damming from ruining your home

Homeowners in cold and snowy winter climates will be familiar with ice damming. An ice dam is a mass of ice that forms on the lower edge of a roofline that overhangs the home.

Stopping a build-up of water, snow, and ice from causing damage is important to ensuring your home stays well-maintained throughout the winter. Prevention against ice damming plays a big role in ensuring your house is damaged by the end of winter. Let’s take a closer look at ice damming and the best to worst prevention methods.

How Does an Ice Dam Form?

The major cause of ice damming is uneven heat throughout the house. An ice dam will form when the attic or along the underside of the roof reaches above the freezing point at 32 degrees.

The ice dam typically worsens after heavy snow because the snow has insulating properties. The snow layer traps the warm air under the snow and causes it to melt, forming a water dam.

The heat from your home rises to the roof, heating the snow and causing it to melt, resulting in a lot of water.

Why Are Ice Dams bad?

The water from an ice dam builds up and can leak into your home and cause damage to walls, ceiling, insulation, and so much more. Severe ice dams can weigh hundreds of pounds and compromise the roof’s structure.

Dams can rip gutters off, shift shingles, and cause water to pour into your house, causing more than just surface damage. Once water is in your house, the paint will peel, floors will warp, and stained and sagging ceilings can also occur.

When moisture enters the home from ice dams, problems like mold growth and mildew can be significant. These can cause respiratory issues. Plus, water and physical damage can significantly decrease the value of your home.

Best Ice Damming Prevention Methods

There are some very effective ways to prevent ice damming and some very bad ways that will cause more damage than the water already can. Prevention is the best method of stopping ice damming from causing extensive damage throughout your home. How do you do this?

1. Air leaking out from the attic is the primary cause of ice dams. Experts will say that the best way to prevent ice dams from forming is to seal the leaks with caulking, according to the University of Michigan .

You can hire a professional to do a home energy audit with an infrared camera to locate where the air is escaping from the attic. According to The Spruce, blocking any heat sources contributing to a higher temperature in the attic is an excellent way to prevent ice damming and to protect the vents.

2. Ventilation under the roof deck can keep the outside air circulating through the attic and prevent the temperature from warming above a freezing point. The physics are quite simple when it comes to good attic ventilation and preventing ice damming.

Attics with good ventilation do not experience ice dams. Circulating cool outside air in the attic space prevents ice dams from forming.

3. Keeping the attic’s temperature low by ensuring there are no heat sources in the attic is another way to prevent ice damming. The heat from recessed lights can extend up into the floor of the attic and radiate a surprising amount of heat. Proper insulation in the ceiling below the attic will prevent the warm air from rising into the attic space and melting the snow on the roof. You can increase the spray insulation in your attic to prevent more water build-up.

4. Keep your gutters clean! Autumn comes in before the snow, where leaves will gather in your gutters. Leaves and pollen will clog gutters and become a major problem with melting snow and ice damming. Instead of adding another yard chore to your already busy schedule, call in the professional gutter cleaners who will ensure you have a clear and functioning gutter system.

5. Hire a professional company to remove the ice dam. Sometimes an ice dam problem becomes too much, and you need to call in the professionals. This will protect your home and yourself while addressing the issue. Professionals are insured and will arrive with the correct equipment to ensure your house is well taken care of. Hire an engaging and friendly service that ensures your ice dam prevention is top-notch.

Worst Ice Damming Prevention Methods

1. Don’t install heating cables. Although they can appear convenient and the right solution, heating cables will shorten the life span of your roof and significantly add to your heating bill.

2. Do not remove ice with chippers, chemicals, or heat. These methods can damage your gutters, shingles, and building components. Rather call in professionals who are equipped and experienced in removing ice dams before attempting a DIY version. Leave the ice clearing activities to the professionals who can preserve the integrity of your roofing, gutters, and building while successfully removing any ice damming.

3. Don’t add roof vents. Roof vents, including powered vents, will not eliminate the ice dam and will possibly worsen the problem.

Ice damming can be a serious wintertime issue to deal with. Luckily, there are prevention methods and professionals who are able to keep your home in good shape throughout the year.

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