There are some things you can always count on. The flowers will always bloom in the spring, and the leaves will always drop from trees in the fall. And for us at Menold, we can always expect to get calls in the icy, winter months with reports of a suspected roof leak. After some initial conversation with the customer, we can usually diagnose an ice dam.
Ice dams are one of the home-owning woes that are rarely talked about, but a common occurrence in our world. They may appear harmless – even pretty, as the large icicles form and glisten in the sunlight. Small icicles are usually harmless, but watch for excessive ice where it shouldn't be, like on the edges of your roof, on the soffit, or behind your gutters.
Ice dams form when the snow on your roof is warm enough to melt, but then refreezes again as it hits the edge of your roof. For this reason, the key to avoiding ice dams is to keep your roof consistently cold across its surface! Here are some ways we recommend achieving this:
- Add attic ventilation. This essentially draws in cooler outdoor air and rids your attic of the warmer airflow, resulting in a cooler roof that is less likely to melt the snow.
- Remove the snow from your roof. While you pull out the snow shovel to clear your driveway, consider removing the first few feet of snow from your roofline as well. This can be done with a roof rake. Make sure that your downspouts are clear so that any snow that does melt can hopefully find its way there instead of building up as an ice dam!
- Address attic bypasses. Closing up any openings into your attic is helpful in two ways: it saves money on heating your home and it prevents your roof from heating up unnecessarily. It is amazing how much heat can be lost subtly through gaps in drywall or cracks around light fixtures or plumbing pipes.
- Insulate the attic floor. This reduces the amount of heat rising from within the house
Once an ice dam has formed, they can often be knocked down with a roof rake, shovel, or by applying an ice melting product. If it is too large to remove, it may be helpful to create a channel through it so that any future melting snow can flow through it instead of adding to the issue.
The water intrusion that can occur as an ice dam begins to melt and seep into your home is the main issue we are hoping to avoid, as this leads to opportunities for extensive water damage and even mold growth. Always keep your personal safety in mind when removing the ice dam, and if you need help recovering from the damage inside, we are always here. Have a Happy New Years, friends!