Ice Damming

What is Ice Damming?

An Ice Dam is the ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof which prevents melting snow from draining off the roof. An ice dams forms from  the amount of heat loss from a house, snow cover, and outside temperatures. The snow should melt if the temperature is 32 or above. If the temperature reaches 32 or lower this snow freezes and an ice dam will form. The dam grows as snow melts above it, then this water build up finds cracks and openings in the exterior roof and seeps into the attic space. If this reaches past the attic, the ceiling insulation could be ruined and become damaged. This water damage can cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas in your home.

Different Roof Temps

Most ice dams form at the edge of the roof, therefore there is a heat source warming other parts of the roof. This heat comes from the interior of the home.

Heat from the house travels to the roof in 3 different ways:
  1. Conduction
  2. Convection
  3. Radiation

Preventing Ice Dams

Ice dams can be prevented by controlling the heat that is loss from your home. If you need to immediately remove the ice dams you can:

  • Remove the snow from your roof. This prevents the snow from melting and causing further damage. It is best to contact a contractor to remove the snow if there are large piles. It can be dangerous to walk on your roof or use a ladder if you have not had previous experience.
  • If water is flowing into the home, you can make channels in the ice dam. Hosing the roof with tap water on a warmer day should assist with this.

Mold, Mildew and Air Quality

If you have an ice dam forming, take action quickly, because if this ice dam is left untreated the moisture can cause mold and mildew in your home. These issues can cause respiratory problems and cause internal damage to your home. It is very important that the moisture does not seep into your home and cause mold or mildew. If you do have water damage, dry out these areas immediately and contact us to access the problem areas.

Long Term Results

Take these two actions for long term effects:

  • The ceiling needs to be air tight, so mist air can flow from the home into the attic.
  • Seal air leakage paths that flow between the house and attic.

Keep in mind that this will not allow the snow to melt as easily, therefore the snow will be heavy on your roof. Can your roof hold the extra weight? You can have your roof evaluated if this is a concern. Contact us for a free roof inspection.