Spring may be just around the corner, but all that melting and freezing may actually be causing havoc on your home. The culprit – ice dams. And it’s likely that you aren’t even aware of the impact. Wondering if you are at risk and what you can do to prevent ice dams in your home? Here are five things you may not know.
It starts with snow.
Ice dams start innocently enough – with large amounts of snow on your roof. (Sound familiar?) As the snow melts from heat in the attic, gutters clog up with water turning to ice. (This is especially true when the night temperatures continue to get below freezing.) If this cycle continues, it can cause a dam of ice to form in the gutters. This can trap water – eventually backing into the roof, under the shingles and into the house.
You may not know about an ice dam until it’s too late.
Ice doesn’t have to be an issue if it stays where it belongs – outside. But it can be a disaster if it leaks into your attic and walls. Because many of us don’t often visit the attic (especially in these cold winter months), a leak can easily go undetected. For many local homeowners, the problem is discovered when water comes seeping through walls – even dripping around windows. By this point, the damage can be extensive.
You may not be at risk.
If your roof was replaced after 2005, your home is likely not at risk for ice dams. This is when local building codes began requiring new roofs to include ice and water shield. This shield is applied under your roofing and provides protection from seeping water.
An ounce of prevention.
There are a variety of ways to keep ice from forming in your gutters in the first place.
- Good – Safely remove snow from the roof when it exceeds six inches. Just like you would clear walkways, removing snow from your roof will keep the gutters clear of large ice dams.
- Better – Ensure there is ice and water shield installed under your roof. This will protect your home from water seepage.
- Best – To keep warm air from escaping through the roof, increase the level of insulation, sealing and ventilation in the attic.
What to do when ice dams have formed.
Once an ice dam has formed in your gutters, try to avoid your first instinct – breaking up the ice with an ice pick. “This could damage your roof and cause more harm than good,” explains Mike Zemo, a project manager with 30 years of experience. Instead, try melting the ice with a small amount of calcium chloride ice melt. (Avoid rock salt, which can also damage your roof.) Once the ice melts, it can run through gutters normally.
The bottom line.
Understanding how ice dams form and how they can cause damage within your home is the first step toward keeping your home safe and dry.
Do you have more questions? Chat with our restoration experts.