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Windows and Doors

Protect Your Roof by Preventing Ice Dams

Tuesday, December 13 2016 9:22 AM

Ice dams on home exteriorKnowing what an ice dam is, how to remove it and how to keep them from coming back is important to protect your roof and your home from possible damage during the frigid, snowy months.

What is an Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a collection of ice that forms at the edge of a roofline and prevents snow, water and ice from draining off the roof. Snow that backs up behind the dam can melt and  leak into a home, causing damage to the roof, ceilings, walls, and insulation.

How Do Ice Dams Form?

Ice dams form when there is a large temperature difference between the surface of the roof and the outdoors. For an ice dam to form, there must be snow on the roof and the higher portions of the roof’s surface must be warmer than the edges. Outside temperatures must remain below freezing for the majority of the time.

When the roof gets warm enough to melt the layer of snow on the surface, the water trickles down underneath the shingles until it reaches the roofline.The edge of the roof stays cold because it extends beyond the side of the house where there isn’t insulation or heat so the water freezes, eventually growing into a pile of ice.

What Damage Do Ice Dams Cause?

If an ice dam gets severe enough, melted water can back up and leak beneath the shingles. This water has to go somewhere, and its preferred route is downward into the ceilings, insulation and walls, causing damage to the drywall and paint.

If the ice dam breaks free, it can pull shingles and gutters off the roof. This ice and debris can damage anything it falls on.

Preventing Ice Dams

Ice dams can be prevented simply by using a roof rake, which is a metal rake attached to a long pole, to clear off snow and ice from the roof. Take special measures to not damage the shingles on the roof.

Heating cables can also be installed on the edge of the roof where the temperature is lowest. These high-resistance wires are mounted in a zigzag pattern and plugged into an outdoor GFCI outlet. They’re ideal for spots that get frequent ice dams. Melted ice will need to be rerouted away from the roof and gutters.

Curing Ice Dams

For a more permanent fix, the roof will need to be kept the same temperature as the eaves, which can be achieved with a few options:

  1. Add roof and soffit vents

  2. Add attic insulation

  3. Close up attic bypasses

  4. Seal air leakage paths

  5. Cap the attic hatch

If your roof has been damaged by an ice dam, the experts at Precision Windows and Doors can repair it. Call us today at 816-524-8999 or 913-649-1199 for a free estimate.

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