What to do if You Have an Ice Dam on Your Roof

From immediate to long-term steps, it’s important to address all aspects of ice dams on your roof. These are cumbersome and dangerous additions to any home, yet they can be prevented. So, what’s an ice dam? An ice dam is a thick ridge of ice that has built up along your eaves. They often form in winter when the temps dip below freezing.

Dams pose a big safety and structural concern, as they can tear gutters off your home, loosen shingles, and lead to water back-ups in your house. The results are even worse: warped floors, peeling paint, sagging ceilings, soggy attic insulation, and resulting mold and mildew. So, you can see that ice dams are just not a good thing to have!

The issue goes far beyond inconvenience and unsightliness; they signal insufficient venting and insulation. During the day when it’s warmer, the ice that has built up melts and pools underneath the ice, seeping under shingles, and dripping into the soffits, ceilings and walls. In fact, you may notice rust spots on your drywall fasteners as one of the first signs.

Then, when night falls and the temperatures plunge, that ice freezes up again, and so starts the cycle over again the next day. The snow on top of your roof may melt, but because the roof ridges don’t get the benefit of warmth from the attic, they stay frozen. This signals that your attic is too warm overall.

There are many temporary fixes to getting rid of ice dams after they occur. You can rake snow from the roof, break off ice dams in large chunks (dangerous and not recommended!), clear out the gutters, blow in cold air to your attic, and use a calcium chloride ice melter.

All of these solutions are temporary and should not be used over the long term. It’s always wise to partner with a professional roofer who can suggest permanent fixes to the problem.

Preventing Ice Dams: Permanent Fixes

  • Use heated cables: You can clip these cables along the edge of your roof in a zigzag pattern. They work by equalizing the temperature of the roof by heating it from the outside.
  • Add ventilation: Use a ridge vent and continuous soffit vents to circulate cold air under the roof.
  • Cover the hatch: Heat can escape through unsealed attic hatches and whole-house fans. Cover these with weatherstripped caps.
  • Add insulation to the attic to keep heat in.
  • Install sealed can lights: Replace recessed lights, which give off lots of heat, with sealed fixtures that you can cover with insulation.
  • Add flashing around chimneys: Seal the gaps between chimney and house framing with steel flashing and fire-stop sealant.
  • Seal and insulate ducts.
  • Caulk gaps around electrical cables and vent pipes.

Contact Hi-Tech Windows & Siding

If you are plagued with ice dams and need advice, just contact us now at 800-851-0900. We would be happy to come out for an inspection and provide you with information regarding roofing solutions.

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