If you don’t take measures to prevent ice dams from forming in your roof during winter, you will suffer the consequences. Repairing the damage on your gutters and eaves troughs caused by ice dams are very expensive. If you don’t have them repaired, you could sustain heavier damage and costlier repair costs inside your house. That is why avoiding ice dams is very crucial if you don’t want to spend money on costly house repairs.
Ice dams develop when the temperature of the roof over the attic increases to the point where it can melt the underside of the snow that covers the roof’s surface. As the snow melts, the water will trickle down the space dividing the shingles and the layer of snow. The melted water will eventually reach the eaves of the roof. Temperatures at the eaves usually remain cold since they extend beyond the walls of the house. Therefore, the melted water will then develop into mounds of ice which are now called ice dams. If you want to avoid ice dams, you need to know the best ways to control them and that’s exactly the subject of this blog.
- Do your preventive work before winter.
The best time to prevent and avoid ice dams is before winter comes. Preventing the build-up of ice dams becomes more difficult when the snow is already falling. You are fortunate that you got hold of this blog at this time when winters is still months away.
- Keep your roof and attic cold during winter.
Snow melts when subjected to higher temperatures. You don’t want that snow on your roof melting during winter as it will form ice dams. Therefore, you need to keep your attic and roof cool enough so that the snow that is covering them will not melt during winter. If your roof is warm and the snow falls, it will have some clear spots where the snow has melted. If this happens, the melted water will fall and it will form tiny icicles that will hang from the eaves.
How can you keep your roof and attic cold during winter? Here are some ways you can do this.
- Ensure the right insulation level on your attic.
Check your attic if it has the right insulation level. It should conform to the building codes in your area. Normally, attics are required to have 12 to 14 inches of cellulose or fiberglass insulation. If you have had ice dams in your roof, maybe its insulation is less than this required amount. Adding more insulation until it reaches the required level will help solve your problem with ice dams. You need to hire a professional to do this job to ensure that you won’t experience this problem again.
2. Improve your roof and attic ventilation
Attic ventilation is important in preventing the build-up of ice dams because it draws in cold outside air and flushes out warm attic air. In the process, air inside the attic is cooled down and the cold temperature of the roof is maintained. You can improve this air exchange by installing roof and attic vents. The rule of thumb in roof and attic ventilation is: there should be around 1 square foot of vent for every 300 sq. ft. of attic floor area. There are also a lot of considerations regarding this matter. If you want to have the correct set-up for your roof and attic ventilation that will prevent ice dams from forming, you need to consult a roof professional specializing in this area.
3. Plug all air leaks
In a typical home, there would be a lot of air leaks that can lead to the formation of ice dams on the roof. Around one-third of the heat loss are caused by these air leaks by way of the ceiling and on through the attic. These air leaks are usually in the form of gaps in drywalls, chimneys, access hatches, plumbing pipes, unblocked walls, cracks around light fixtures, and other ceiling penetrations. Plugging these leaks is usually done with caulk, foam and other covering materials.
Here’s a final note for those who want to avoid ice dams: stay away from homes with roofs that have a flat pitch. Since these roofs are not slanted, it will be easy for ice dams to form. Snow and ice are easily trapped in the gutters at the eaves of flat pitched roofs. This provides the right condition for the formation of ice dams.