Living in Colorado means dealing with crazy, unpredictable weather. We have wind, snow, and ice to contend with during the winter months. This means that ice dams are a real possibility to look out for during winter.
An ice dam is a wall of ice that forms at the edge of the roof of the house. When an ice dam forms, water backs up behind the dam, which then creates a pool. This pool of water can start to leak through the shingles of the roof and into your home. From there, the water can cause damage to the ceilings, walls, and attic of the house.
While ice dams on their own really do not cause any harm, if your roof was not properly installed, or your attic not sufficiently insulated, that backed up water can enter the home and cause quite costly damage. So, read further to find out if your house is at risk for ice dams.
What Factors Cause Ice Dams?
Ice dams are thick ridges of ice that form along the roof of the home, which can cause thousands of dollars in structural damage. It can cause water stained ceilings, loose roof shingles, peeling paint and damaged plaster, and finally sagging gutters.
When an ice dam forms along the roof of your home, heat from the inside of the home starts to melt the ice dam. The melting water then trickles down the roof and refreezes.
Ice dams are usually created after a heavy snowfall. They are formed because of the heavy snow but combined with improper ventilation in your attic. The melting snow then runs down the roof until it reaches a colder section of the home like the gutters, soffits, and valleys, then the water refreezes.
When the melting snow refreezes, ice dams are created. The constant melting and refreezing ensure the formation of ice dams
How to Prevent Ice Dams
There are many ways to treat ice dams if they have formed. To begin with, make sure your attic is properly insulated and venting. Seal all the air leaks in the attic floor.
If you have recessed lighting on the top level of your house, it will need to be sealed. This helps protect against heat loss into the attic and stops humidity from getting into the attic as well.
Humidity in an attic is not good, it can lead to water leaking from the lights, and mold can then form. Try to increase the thickness of insulation on the attic floor, ductwork and chimneys that pass through the attic.
Remove all snow from the roof with a roof rake to be used on the ground for safety. Try to keep the entire roof cold. You may want to consider installing a metal roof for this purpose.
While ice can form on a metal roof, the melting water cannot get through the surface of the roof. Ice and snow are more likely to slide off a metal roof than off asphalt shingles.
Make sure all ventilation systems are venting directly to the exterior of the and not into the attic. This means stove hoods, clothes dryer vents, and bathroom exhaust fans.
Finally, to treat ice dams, try creating channels in the ice by applying warm water to it. This should only be done in an emergency, as this method adds water to the roof. Also, try filling an old panty hose with ice melt and throw it behind the ice dam. It will melt its way through the dam and allow water to flow off the roof.