Prevent Ice Dams: Everything You Need to Know About Ice Dams

In the Northeast, we are accustomed to inclement weather and by this I mean SNOW. Snow isn’t only annoying to shovel, but it can cause damage to our homes through the creation of ice dams. An ice dam is a region of ice that forms at the edge of a home’s roof. It prevents the drainage of water (melting snow) from flowing off the roof. Ice dams usually cause water to back up resulting in water damage to your home. Damage usually occurs in walls, ceilings, roofs, and insulation.

Ice dams are formed when roof temperatures fluctuate at different roof locations. The graphic below will aid us greatly in our description.


Ice Dam Diagram


Ice dams begin to form when ice and snow melt on a high point of a roof. Water then flows down the roof until it crosses a roof surface that is 32° F or lower. At this point, the water refreezes and forms an ice barrier. The barrier blocks and freezes future water flow creating a water backup. The dammed water then enters your home through cracks and imperfections in your roof causing internal water damage.

The key to stopping or slowing ice dams is controlling roof temperatures. This can be achieved several different ways. Sealing air leakage paths in the ceiling is very important. Additionally, installing the appropriate amount of attic insulation is essential. Attic insulation keeps the warm air in your home and allows the attic to remain at the external temperature. This results in an even roof temperature across the entire surface.

Proper home ventilation is equally important. Bathroom and kitchen exhaust vents should be venting outside the home and not into the attic (adding heat and melting snow). Natural roof ventilation can also help maintain uniform roof temperatures as well as reduce the chance for mold and condensation to form.

Bloggers Note: It is important to note that it is very difficult to Ice Dam Meltingcompletely avoid ice dams on a home but the above suggestions have been known to help with the problem. Additionally, our product Heated Helmet could help unfreeze your gutters. Heated Helmet has the ability to automatically adjust its heat output to the temperature outside, making it both effective and energy-efficient.

Source: Univeristy of Minnesota


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