Ice dams are caused by the melting of snow on the warm surface of the roofs and freezing again at cold surfaces. Ice dams trap water underneath them causing water leaks inside the house. Homeowners in extremely cold climates dread the ice dams as they destroy not only the roof but also the gutter, attic, shingles, vents, and so on. Here are some common causes, side effects, and steps to prevent ice dams on your roof.
Causes of Ice Dam
Ice dams are a result of multiple factors apart from the melting water. Roofs in extreme weathers such as the MidWest go through the extreme winters and extreme summers. During the winter, when there is heavy snowfall on rooftops, most of the snow melts away naturally with time. However, due to uneven melting and freezing, ice dams form on roofs. Poor attic insulation also causes the warm air to reaches the top of the roof, which in turn warms up the roof surface. The melted water from the rooftop travels down the roof and freezes again at the edge of the roof. Some of the water gets trapped under the roof which gets leaked into the home. Any snow on top of the ice dam makes it even more difficult to melt.
If you have recessed can lights installed without insulation, the heat also reaches the roof surface and melts the snow on the top. The roof temperatures also get higher in winters due to exhaust systems in kitchen or bathroom. Your fireplaces and chimneys also cause the difference in temperatures on the roof surface. Leaky ducts in the attic, lack of air vents in the soffit and ridge are also some of the cause of the hot air at the surface of the roof that causes the ice dams.
Effects of Ice Dam on Roof
As a result of an ice dam, you may notice dark water spots in your home and molding of the ceiling. Wet stains may be common on the drywall if the ice dams are not attended. Your insulation might get wet due to the water leaks on the roof. Your shingles get destroyed due to the standing water on the rooftop. Timber gets rotted due to the moisture and you may also notice peeling paint due to the ice dam damage. The icicles themselves cause a nasty problem on the exterior of the property.
Ice dams damage the roof deck, shingles, eave protection, and any roofing components. The gutters may fall off due to the weight of the ice dam. Excessive water accumulation in the ice dam is bad for the shingles which may leave dark spots or streaking of your shingles. The roof itself gets warped and highly susceptible to collapse due to the heavy snow and ice dams. Most ice dams near skylights, valleys, or dormers are not visible to the naked eye and cause serious damage if left unattended. Therefore, ice dams are a big issue that needs to be taken care before they further damage the roof.
Prevent Ice Dam
Preventing the roof from getting warm and keeping the roof surface cold throughout the year is the best solution to prevent ice dam. Installing soffit vents and ridge vents is a good idea to keep the air circulation. Proper insulation is also a key component to prevent ice dams. In general, one square foot of attic ventilation per 300 square feet of attic floor space is recommended as the standard insulation practice. Insulating all the lights and the exhaust systems is crucial to maintaining cold roof temperature. Clearing the gutters frequently or after a storm is required.
Heat cable may be installed along the edge of the roof to prevent the ice dams. However, the heat cables may not be effective if there is already existing ice dam. They have to be turned on all the time during the winter which increases the energy bill. If there are any leaks in the cable itself, that may trap the wire and may not effective at all.
Homeowners may attempt to clean the excessive snow on their roof. However, using sharp tools such as a screwdriver may further damage the shingles under the ice dams. It is suggested not to use any sharp objects to clear the ice dam. You can use a hammer to slowly chisel the ice dam. Shoveling the snow on top of the roof is a good idea. Do not put salt or ice melt on the roof which you would use on the pavement. This will further damage the shingles. Use a rake to shove the ice and snow. Fill a sack with sodium chloride ice melt and put it on top of the rooftop which will gradually melt the ice. Chainsaws, heat sprays, duct tape, heat guns, or so on increase the risk of damage. If you do not want to risk any falls in the winter while clearing the ice dams yourselves, call an expert. A professional may be required to clear any hefty ice dam you may have. Sometimes you see that they also use the same tools as you are using, but remember they are experts and know when and how to use them.
A comprehensive solution is required to prevent ice dams rather than just fixing a part or installing storm shield protective layer on the deck. Hiring an experienced roofing inspector during the fall is a good idea. They may suggest any repairs or modifications required before the freezing winter sets in. Any repair at that time would cost more due to the extent of damage already caused by the ice dams. Now is the right time to address any roofing issues you kept postponing until it is too late. Call the roofing experts at Olde Town Roofing at 309-738-5550 or 309-517-1676 for any fall maintenance you may need to prevent ice dams.