Ice buildup on a roof is known in our industry as an ice dam. Though it might not sound like much, the causes for ice dams on roofs create severe damage. The ice buildup usually turns into sharp ridges that tend to form right on the edge of a roof. Once the ice has formed, it prevents melting snow or water from draining properly. This causes a back up of water behind the newfound dam, which can then leak into the home damaging far more than just the roof. These icicles are not only telltale signs that there are issues within the roof and attic but are also hazardous to homeowners.

In a properly constructed attic, it is created to have its own dry and cool space that is different from the controlled living space. Attics that are not isolated from the rest of the house, with up to code intake and out take ventilation, can become warm and moist without proper insulation. Warm attics help melt the bottom layer of snow on the roof causing water to run down to the gutter where it then refreezes. Ice dams then grow as they are fed by melting snow on the roof above it. The water above it backs up behind the ice dam and remains a liquid. This causes the water to find cracks and openings in the exterior roof covering to flow into the unit or homes attic. Once the water intrudes into the attic space, it is all downhill for the homeowner – as the water can travel into exterior walls or through the ceilings insulation and stain the ceilings finish.

What can you do about ice dams in gutters and on roofs?

Think you might be experiencing ice damming on your roof and in your gutters? Here are a few things you can do about the problem above:

  • Try breaking up the dam into smaller chunks so that it can eventually drain properly. This task requires you get on a ladder and tap lightly on the ice with a mallet. Beware. If you do not feel safe on a ladder call a local roofing expert who can fix ice dams. If you do try this, not only could you fall but you could damage or cut through your shingles.
  • Melt the ice dam with calcium chloride. Calcium chloride is a salt chemical, typically known to melt ice on the ground in winter months. This also requires ladder use, so again be careful or call an expert!
  • Lastly, you can call a professional to steam the ice dams. Many roofing specialists have commercial steaming equipment specifically for taking care of ice damming issues.

How can I prevent ice dams on my roof?

Avoid ice dam damage by preventing them from forming at the start. Tips for prevention are:

  • After a snowfall, scrape the snow off your roof with a broom or shovel to avoid icy buildup.
  • Add attic insulation to prevent heat transfer.
  • Install attic vents to keep your attic cool.
  • Speak with your roofing expert to create a plan of attack – whether it is a more in-depth prevention method or having a crew professionally fix the issue.

Ice dams are simply a product of a bad attic climate. You can either chose to deal with it or prevent it. Insulation and ventilation play an important role in fixing these annoying and dangerous dams. If your roof is showing signs of ice damming this season, consider contacting an expert like S&D Roofing Enterprises, Inc. for an inspection today!