Ice Dams: What They Are and How to Prevent Them

Here in Illinois, we’re faced with a wide range of weather patterns, some stronger than others. This weather requires making sure that we are consistent with upkeep on the exterior of our homes and one thing to make sure you’re cleaning out is your gutter. This is especially true for the winter months as ice dams can become a serious issue for your home.

Read more below about what ice dams are and how you can prevent them. 

What is an Ice dam?

An ice dam is a rim of ice that forms at the edge of the roof, making it impossible for snow melt to run off. They are typically caused by irregularities in roof temperature that can come from a variety of different things: heat loss from a house, snow cover, and outside temperatures interact. In fact, it seems as though the conditions have to be just right for ice damns to form. There must be snow on the roof and at higher parts of the roof, the outside temperature must be 32 degrees Fahrenheit, while the parts of the roof are lower than 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, the temperatures outside have to be below freezing. 

Why Are Ice Dams a Problem? 

Ice dams completely stop snow melt from running off and as that water collects, it can start to leak into your home wreaking havoc on your ceilings, HVAC, insulation, and much more. Not only can this damage be costly, but it will lead to much further damage everywhere in your home.

The Effects of Ice Dams

Of the issues that can occur due to ice dams, one of the most dangerous effects can cause water build up in attics, causing a buildup of mold. Why is this dangerous? It can cause serious respiratory health issues.

How to Handle Ice Dams

Ice Dams, while damaging, are preventable and there are both long-term and short-term fixes for this issue. Here’s how you can protect yourself from letting ice dams become a costly problem. 

  1. The best first step to take is to remove the snow from your roof.  You can use a roof rake or a push broom but be careful to not damage your shingle.
  2. If you’re currently experiencing an emergency in which water is flowing into the house, make channels in the ice dams to help the water drain off the roof. The channel will become ineffective within days and is only a temporary solution to ice dam damage.
  3. For a more long-term solution, you’ll want to make sure your ceiling is airtight so that you can prevent warm-moist air from slipping into the attic space. 
  4. Consider increasing the roof insulation to cut down heat loss due to conduction. 
Hire a Professional Roofer

If you’re looking to prevent ice dams on your home, hiring a roofing company to do an inspection on your roof is one of the best ways to ensure that your roof is ready for the winter weather, thus protecting your home.

If you’re interested in scheduling a free inspection, don’t hesitate to click here or give us a call at (847) 549-3731.