How Does an Ice Dam Form?
During the winter time the air inside your home is usually warmer compared to the outside air. When the snow falls on the roof, it creates a barrier. When the warm air from within your home manages to escape via the roof, it will heat the bottom layer of the snow, causing it to melt and run down the roof. Once the meltwater reaches the colder area of the roof it then freezes once more. Over time, an ice dam begins to form.
Other Causes of Ice Dams are:
Many people often do not get a chance to clean all of the leaves out of their gutters. The leaves can block downspouts and fill the gutters that results in water getting trapped as opposed to flowing through. When the water backs up and freezes due to the cold temperatures an ice dam forms.
When it comes to insulation not all are deemed equal. The quality of insulation depends a lot on its R-value and is basically a measure of how good the insulation resists heat flow. If your insulation does not have the required R-value then heat can escape to the roof establishing the thaw-freeze cycle that creates ice dams.
A lot of homes have soffit vents that allow for air intake as well as a ridge box that lets air escape. The consistent air flow establishes a consistent temperature between the top and underside of the roof. Homes that have poor ventilation can interrupt the air flow and results in formation of heat pockets to form on the roof causing ice to melt and freeze when they reach the colder area resulting in ice dam formation.
Ice Dam Damage Includes:
Physical Injuries from Falling Icicles
Icicles are a hazard because they can cause severe injuries if they happen to break loose and fall on an unsuspecting person. This usually occurs when the homeowner tries to knock the icicles off the house.
Ice dams causes damage to gutters primarily due to the weighed down ice. This ice can break free of the eave at any time and can result in a warped mess.
Broken Roof Shingles
The frequent thawing and freezing of roof shingles can result in them to break and fail causing expensive repair and replacement
Damaged and Wet Insulation
When insulation becomes wet it will get damaged and it will lose its ability to insulate.
Interior Water Damage
You know that you have an ice dam problem when you notice water damage from stained walls and ceilings as well as ruined floors, carpets and furniture. Don’t leave these problems unattended because mold will quickly grow.
Ice Dam Do’s and Don’ts
Use a Roof Rake
You can use a roof rake to remove snow from the roof without you having to physically go up and remove it from there. This might not be an effective solution as it only offers relief in the short-term. You will see ice dams forming once more if the root of the problem has not been corrected.
Install Proper Ventilation
The wrong R-value of your insulation results in heat escaping to the roof, melting the ice and freezing it on the edge causing an ice dam. Have your insulation checked regularly to know if they have not been damaged or require replacement.
Avoid Using Corrosive Chemicals
Never use salt or calcium chloride in order to melt the snow from your roof. Not only are these chemicals corrosive and can damage your roof shingles they are also toxic to grass and plants too.
Call a Professional
Do not attempt to remove ice dams from the roof yourself as not only is this dangerous you can also cause far more serious damage to your roof and home. Call a reputable roofing contractor to do the job professionally.