Winter weather can bring many challenges for homeowners, but one of the most unpleasant is the formation of ice dams. Ice dams can cause significant damage to your roof and home, leading to costly repairs. Prevent ice dams with tips from the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Save money on heating bills and protect your roof from damage.
What Causes Ice Dams?
Contrary to popular belief, ice dams are not caused by poor roofing or attic ventilation. They are actually caused by warm, moist air in the attic combined with snow on the roof and the right weather conditions. The heat from your home rises into the attic and melts the underside of the snow on the roof. The melted snow then flows down the roof surface until it reaches a cold spot (such as the eaves or soffit), forming a frozen dam. Behind this dam, more snowmelt and ice pile up, causing the ice buildup to back up under the shingles and damaging them. This allows water to leak into your ceilings and walls, causing damage to your home.
The Damage Caused by Ice Dams
Ice dams can cause significant damage to your home, including:
Wet insulation: Water vapor carried with the escaping warm air may condense, freeze, and build up in the insulation, causing it to soak and lose its insulating value.
Cracked plaster and peeling paint: The buildup of water in the insulation can cause plaster and paint to crack and peel.
Rot and structural damage: The buildup of water in the insulation can lead to rot and other structural damage to your home.
What Not to Do
There are many myths about what to do when dealing with ice dams. Here are some things you should not do:
Install heating cables: Heating cables will shorten the life of your roof and cost you money to operate.
Use chippers, chemicals, or heat: Removing the ice with chippers, chemicals, or heat can damage shingles, gutters, and other building components.
Add roof vents: Adding roof vents, including powered vents, will not eliminate dams and often worsen the problem.
Rely on insulation alone: Although additional insulation, especially higher-density foam on the top plate of exterior walls, can reduce heat transfer to the roof deck, insulation alone is insufficient to prevent ice dams.
Preventing Ice Dams: Tips for Homeowners
The best way to prevent ice dams is to keep your attic and roof deck cold. Here are some tips for preventing ice dams:
Seal air leaks: Locate and seal air leaks between the living space and attic, as well as around chimneys, light fixtures, recessed lights, and vents. Use spray foam, caulk, or weather stripping to seal the leaks.
Insulate the attic floor: Add insulation to the attic floor to reduce heat transfer from the living space to the roof deck. In addition, consider using higher-density foam on the top plate of exterior walls to minimize heat transfer further.
Ventilate the attic: Ventilate the attic to allow moist air to escape and keep the roof deck and attic cold. Consider installing roof vents, such as roof louvers or ridge vents, to allow air to escape.
Remove snow from the roof: Remove snow from the roof regularly, especially when the temperature rises above freezing. You can use a roof rake or hire a professional to remove the snow for you.
Protect your roof with an ice and water shield: Apply a waterproof barrier called an ice and water shield to the roof deck before installing shingles. This will help prevent water from seeping into your home in the event of an ice dam.
Inspect roof regularly: Early detection of issues through regular roof checks can save on costly repairs. Stay proactive this winter.
ice dams can cause significant damage to your home and your roof, leading to costly repairs. Protect your home from ice dam damage by preventing them in advance. Save on heating costs and keep your family safe with proactive measures. Following the tips outlined in this blog post, you can protect your home from the winter woe of ice dams.