Ice Dams: What You Need To Know

water damage repair grand island ice dams grand islandDuring our cold winter months, Mother Nature “decorates” our roof lines with icicles. Although they might be unique and beautiful, icicles hanging from your gutters could be the sign of an ice dam. What happens when an ice dam forms and why it could potentially cost you money to repair interior water damage are two things every homeowner needs to know.

Ice dams occur after a heavy snowfall when warm air in the attic causes the temperature of the roof to rise and the snow to melt. As snowmelt runs down the roof, it refreezes when reaching the colder roof edge, forming a mound of ice.  Ice dams are those chunks of ice that form along the edges of your roof, and while frozen, they’re no more trouble than the icicles that hang down. But during the warmer parts of a winter day, water melting off the roof pools behind the ice. With nowhere else for the water to go, it seeps back up under the shingles. Ice dams allow water from melting snow and ice to pool on the roof which will eventually leak into your home. Sometimes water can find its way 5 to 10 ft. back up under the shingles. Eventually, it drips through the roof into the soffits, walls, and worst of all, onto your ceilings.

Look for these signs of water damage from ice dams. Check for wet ceilings and walls, rust spots on drywall fasteners, peeling paint, sagging drywall and stains around windows and doors.

There are things you can do to prevent ice dams from happening. Word of caution, climbing on ladders can be treacherous during the winter months. Do not neglect your safety when performing the following tasks.

  1. Close up attic bypasses

In the average home, about one-third of the heat loss is through the ceiling into the attic. By stopping these air leaks you will not only avoid letting warm air melt the snow on your roof faster, but you’ll save energy and reduce both your heating and cooling bills.

  1. Measure your attic insulation level

While you’re in the attic, check the depth of your attic insulation. Add more if you have less than 8 inches of insulation.  Blown insulation can be more effective by molding to the attic space.

  1. Add roof and soffit vents

Attic ventilation draws in cold outdoor air and flushes out warmer attic air, cooling the attic and the roof in the process.  Keep the roof cold to minimize ice dams.

After a heavy snowstorm, rake the snow off your roof to prevent ice dams from forming.  A snow rake, which is an aluminum scraper mounted at a right angle on a telescoping aluminum pole, is the simplest solution for occasional heavy snows. If you pull the snow down, it can’t melt and form an ice dam. It’s an effective solution, but only for single-story homes.

Ice dams themselves aren’t necessarily a problem. It’s the leaks that do the bulk of the damage to your property.  Using a heating cord can also keep the roofline free by melting away excess snow and ice.  If you see those water damage signs on the interior of your home in Grand Island area, call the Yellow Van Restoration Professionals.  We can restore your home to pre-loss condition, and prevent mold growth or unsightly damage to your property.