A key facet of winter weather home upkeep that homeowners will need to understand is ice dam prevention. Ice dams can occur from fall through spring on the edge of the roof following a snowfall. These phenomena can lead to damage to structures, such as mold in the loft, which can be extremely severe. Here is how ice dams form, how to prevent and remove ice dams, and who to call if a person should cause damage to your property. 

When snow accumulates to a roof, a cycle of melting and refreezing occurs. In an ideal world, the snow will melt the roof, then enter the gutters and flow harmlessly into the ground. However, two key factors may cause difficulties: the external temperature and the temperature in your attic.

The warmer your loft is, the further melting will occur. However, when the outdoor air temperature is shallow, the border of the roof stays below freezing and the water refreezes as it gets to that point. This ice hockey then forms a line, or “dam,” on the edge of the roof. As more snow melts, additionally, it refreezes as it gets to the “ice dam,” along with also the dam keeps getting larger.

To make things worse, ice dams are somewhat of a silent destroyer, as water enters the house gradually. Also, it typically hurts the attic area, which is not a location that homeowners usually frequent. From the time you understand there is a problem, it is when the harm has burst from the attic and to different areas of the house.

Furthermore, contrary to popular opinions, gutters don’t lead to ice dams. However, an ice dam can expand to a gutter if weather conditions allow.

Ice dam prevention hints

Eliminate the snow from your roof

It is typical for homeowners to rev their snowblowers and dig their snow shovels after each winter snowfall to clear their sidewalks and drives. But to not be ignored is that the snow that has also fallen on the home. Here are some roof snow removal hints :

  • Eliminate the initial three to four inches of snow out of your roofline. This can be best done with a roof rake or a long-handled brush which can permit you to remove the snow without the use of a ladder.
  • Make certain downspouts are clear so that filtered water gets an opportunity to drain properly.
  • If your area has received more than a foot of snow, it’s best to clear not only the initial three to four inches along your roofline, but as far as you can. A foot or more of snow has the potential to make your roof cave-in or fall.

Adding roof maintenance to your snow removal routine is a terrific way to prevent ice dams following a snowfall, but there are more long-term alternatives.

Insulate your attic

A well-insulated attic helps prevent the melt/freeze conditions in which ice dams form by keeping the attic temperature lower. Since the most important reason for ice dams is a too warm attic, a good ice dam prevention alternative is decreasing the loft temperature.

Installing extra insulation in the loft area is as easy as laying additional layers across the existing ones, or having more insulation blown in. But, there are limitations to this process, and it is best to employ or consult a professional roofer or insulation contractor.

Furthermore, if you become aware of bare sections on your roof while the rest of the roof has snow, there can be insufficient insulation under the bare areas. To confirm this, have your attic inspected and remedy the situation if necessary.

You should also inspect the weather-stripping and/or insulating material on loft stairways or hatchways. Make sure it’s in great form and seals well. This will help keep the heat out of the attic area and prevent ice dams.

Ventilate your loft

Even with optimal insulation, there is still heat leakage into the loft. That is when the value of attic venting becomes apparent. Without adequate ventilation, heat will build up regardless of the amount of insulating material.

First, inspect your loft to make sure that the existing vents have yet to be covered by insulation or other items.

The typical recommendation for ventilation is just one square foot of vent for every 150 feet of attic floor space. If your home does not have that ratio (many older houses don’t), employ a contractor to remedy the issue.

If your house doesn’t have vents, consider adding a ridge vent. If you are not sure about the state of your roof, speak to a specialist roofer for advice or assistance.

Removing ice dams

If an ice dam has formed on your roof, that doesn’t indicate that water damage and mold growth happened in the house. However, it is always best to remove the ice dam as you notice that, well before it has an opportunity to cause harm to your house. Safely eliminating an ice dam can be achieved in many ways:

  • Simply knocking an ice dam with a roof rake is often enough to dislodge it. Doing this allows water to drain again.
  • When the ice dam is too large, consider cutting a channel through it. That will permit any standing water it is obstructing to drain properly.
  • As you never want to use rock salt onto your roof, you may use calcium chloride to melt down the ice dam and allow water to once again flow freely.
  • Eventually, another option is to hire a snow removal contractor to solve the problem.

Hint: Installing a water system underneath the roof shingles may act as additional protection. It will help prevent water from seeping into the construction.

For water damage recovery, contact PuroClean!

Now’s the time to generate winter maintenance a priority. But even with ice dam prevention measures in place, you may still be susceptible to an ice dam which could create a water loss.

If you notice water harm (marks, slips, or lines) on ceilings or exterior walls, it might mean an ice dam has formed, and water and ice have pushed their way to your attic. Along with repairing the cause of the ice cube, it’s important to recognize this is a true water damage scenario.

The problem ought to be remediated by trained professionals to prevent further harm to the structure (such as rotting), and to prevent mold growth — a health hazard to people living in the home.

And that is where your regional PuroClean office will help in safeguarding your water-damaged home to a pre-loss condition they also offer flood clean up.