Preventing ice damsPreventing ice dams

Preventing ice damsWinter provides scenic snow falls and weather for sledding and skiing. It also offers up an opportunity for ice dams to form on your roof unless you take preventative measures. The term ice dam refers to a band of thick ice that forms on a roof’s edge, blocking the gutters and drainage. When the dam melts, water enters the home underneath shingles. This causes damage to ceilings, insulation and walls, so let’s talk about preventing ice dams.

Ice Dam Prevention

Before problems arise, examine your home for potential issues. What you find before the first winter storm, you can have repaired before ice dams form. You can also take measures to prepare naturally occurring situations.

  1. Check the insulation and ventilation. Incorrectly installed insulation prevents proper ventilation. That results in an overabundance of warm area entering the attic. The excessive heat causes roof snow to melt from the bottom of the snow pile. The melting water can’t run off the roof completely and freezes on the roof’s edges – about six to 18 inches from the edge.
  2. Check the drainage from a flat pitched roof. The angle of this roof type provides less effective water drainage.
  3. Prepare for mild daytime temperatures with freezing or colder night temperatures. This weather creates a cycle of thawing and freezing on the roof. This vicious cycle promotes ice dam formation.
  4. Watch for substantial snowfalls resulting in six inches or greater on the roof. This provides the set up for hidden snow melt caused by the heat from the home causing snow melt from the bottom of the pile.
  5. After each precipitation event, examine the home’s exterior. Indicators of ice dams include ice build-up such as an ice ridge along the edge of the roof or large icicles formed along the roof’s edge. Check the roof’s edge, exterior vents, soffits and window frames.

Preventing Ice Dams

You can’t change the weather so while you can’t control the differential between day and night temperatures, you can conduct preventative maintenance that protects you from situations that could otherwise cause ice dams. You’ll need to bundle up and brave the cold for two solutions, but others keep you toasty inside while protecting your home.

If you already have an ice dam present, remove it first. Avoid using the chip and hammer method because it can result in roof damage. Try spraying the roof edges with chemical deicer or warm water. If this fails, call Borders Construction so we can steam the ice off. A steamer works similar to a power washer but using hot water that melts ice without causing roof damage.

Use the following methods for preventing ice dams from forming:

  1. Install electric heat cables on the roof’s edge. The cost of the cables depends on your roof size. The materials cost between $20 to $200 depending on the length of cabling needed.
  2. Clear the snow from the roof right after a storm using a roof rake. This extremely long handled rake lets you stand on the ground while clearing the roof off. These cost between $30 to $80.
  3. Improve the attic insulation by realigning it and plugging gaps efficiently. A professional can help you plug gaps around conduits, electrical outlets and light fixtures.
  4. Improve the attic’s ventilation with a new ventilation system that includes soffits, turbine ventilators and ventilator fans.

Contact Borders Construction for help getting your home ready for winter. We can help you prevent and remove ice dams so your roof remains damage free.