How Ice Dams Form and How to Prevent Them
Ice that gathers along the roofline can lead to harmful ice dams and costly repairs. In order to maintain the structure of your roof, eaves, gutters, and home interior, learn how to prevent ice dams from forming in the first place.
What Causes Ice Dams?
1. Heat from inside the home warms the roof but leaves the eaves freezing, so the melted snow from the roof turns to ice once it reaches the eaves. This is often caused by poor insulation and air leaks around the eaves.
2. Ice collects and forms a dam and the warmth from the attic continues to melt the snow on the roof.
3. The melted snow backs up behind the dam, and leaks under the shingles, getting into the house.
Easy Ways to Prevent Ice Dams
Permanent Ice Dam Prevention
The best long-term solution for preventing ice dams from forming is with proper air sealing and insulation. Not only will you prevent ice dams, but you’ll also reduce your heating and air conditioning costs.
1. Seal up your attic, especially access hatches, unblocked walls, gaps in drywall, and air leaks around pipes, air ducts, light fixtures, chimneys, and other ceiling penetrations. Sealing all the air leaks in your attic is a difficult task, so consider hiring a professional for the job. If you do seal air leaks in the attic, make sure you wear gloves, a dust mask, and it’s not too hot or cold in there. Be extra careful around light fixtures, vent pipes, chimneys, and flues. Do not add attic insulation until you have sealed the air leaks.
2. Measure your attic insulation. Simply grab a camera and a tape measure or yardstick, and head into the attic. Take a few different measurements to get the average height of your attic insulation. Then, use this guide from ENERGY STAR to determine to recommended R-value (insulation level) for your geographic zone.
3. Consider adding roof and soffit vents. This is pretty complicated, so speak with a professional about your existing attic insulation and ventilation to determine if you need extra roof or soffit vents. Generally, you want a vent in the soffit (overhang) every other rafter, or one square foot of ventilation for every 300 square feet.
4. Maintain clean gutters. When gutters get clogged, it’s hard for ice, snow, and water to flow freely off your roof.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with big home projects like sealing attic air leaks, so call the professionals at Sobieski Services for a professional inspection. We are experts when it comes to heating, air conditioning, insulation, and ventilation.
Temporary Ice Dam Prevention
- Heated cables can be placed along the roof’s edge as an emergency ice dam prevention method. Pay attention to wintry forecasts and you can get them up before the storm hits.
- Consider raking snow off the roof with a long-handled roof rake.
- Deice the snow with an old pair of panty hose filled with calcium chloride ice melt. Lay it over the ice dam and off the gutter to create a channel for the water to run through.
Ice dams can easily prevented. Before an ice dam ruins your home, contact Sobieski Services for long-lasting ice dam prevention in in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey