Dealing With Ice Dams

For most homeowners, cold winter weather is a good time to take a break from outdoor home maintenance projects.  However, homeowners should remember to keep a watchful eye out for the formation of ice dams on their roof.  Ice dams can cause serious damage to an asphalt shingle roof so it’s important to take action if you notice ice dams forming along the edge of your roof.  Otherwise, you may end up needing a new roof.

What Are Ice Dams?

Ice dams are a buildup of ice along the lower edge of a roof.  Ice dams form when snow and ice melt on warmer sections of the roof and the water freezes as it reaches the colder edges of the roof.  The ice forms a dam which causes more water to back up behind the dam.

What is The Harm From Ice Dams?

When water backs up behind an ice dam, it seeps under the shingles where it can leak into the home.  In addition, the water under the shingle will eventually freeze and since water expands as it freezes, it exerts pressure against the underside of the shingles causing them to loosen and split.

What Causes Ice Dams?

Ice dams form in weather conditions that allow snow and ice on the main area of the roof to melt, then re-freeze along the lower edge of the roof.  Ice dams usually don’t form if the weather is consistently cold because the snow and ice does not have a chance to melt. 

How Can Ice Dams Be Prevented?

Poorly insulated homes are more susceptible to ice dams.  The lack of insulation allows heat to escape from the home into the attic where it heats the underside of the roof and contributes to the melting snow and ice.  Adding insulation to prevent heat loss and ensuring that the attic has sufficient ventilation will reduce ice dam formation.  In addition, use a snow rake from the ground to clear as much snow from the roof as possible.  This will reduce the amount of melted runoff and also allow the sun to warm the edges of the roof. 

Posted on behalf of Ken Christie, CZE Roofing and Remodeling