It is that time of year again. Although we have been lucky so far, it is winter and snow may start falling any day now. Today we are going to talk about Ice dams, what causes them, how to prevent them and what to do if you get one.
What causes an ice dam?
Ice dams are typically caused when accumulated snow on your roof begins to melt. The melting can occur on a warm day, or by warm air escaping from your roof due to improper insulation or cracks in your siding. When the water from the melting snow re-freezes at the edge of your roofline, an ice dam is formed. This ice prevents water from draining off the roof. This water can then back up underneath roof shingles and make its way into your home, causing damage.
What is the best way to prevent an ice dam from forming?
- Remove snow from your roof after every storm. Roof rakes are great for clearing snow up to 3 or 4 feet from the edge of the roof, which will prevent the ice dams from forming.
- Clear downspouts and gutters: Keeping your gutters and the area around your downspouts clear will allow any melted snow to leave your roof.
- Insulate your attic: Insuring that your attic is well insulated will prevent the melting and freezing cycle that could be part of the cause of the ice dams. Check and seal places where warm air could be escaping from your home. This will also save you money on utility bills.
- Installing a water-repellent membrane: When replacing your roof, installing a water repellent membrane underneath your roof will act as an extra barrier that prevents water from seeping into your roof.
What should I do if I get an ice dam?
- Melt the Ice Dam: Fill nylon stockings with calcium chloride ice melt and place them vertically across the ice dam. This should melt a channel through the dam, allowing water through. Be aware that the calcium chloride can damage the shrubbery and plants around the gutters, so use with caution. Also, don’t substitute the calcium chloride with ice rock. Ice rock can actually damage your roof.
- Get Professional help: If you cannot safely reach the roof, don’t do it! Call in the professionals!
This is particularly important if the ground is icy or unstable; it is not worth getting hurt.
- Give us a call: Damage caused by ice dams is usually covered under your homeowners policy. So if you do have damage to your home as a result of an ice dam, give us a call and we will help you through the claims process.
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