An ice dam can develop on the roof of any home when snowy or icy conditions are present. The damage from an ice dam can be significant, but the good news is that these dams can be prevented when proper precautions are taken. By learning more about what ice dams are and how they are formed, you can understand what it takes to prevent them and to deal with them if they do develop on your roof.
What Is An Ice Dam?
When you think about snow or ice accumulating on your roof, you may think about a relatively even layer of frozen precipitation over the entire surface. However, several factors may cause uneven heating on the roof. For example, internal heat from the home may not penetrate through the roof evenly. Sunlight and shading from trees, the chimney, and nearby structures may also result in uneven heating on the roof. Uneven heating may result in snow or ice melting in some areas of the roof and not in others. The water will run down the roof until it hits a colder space, and it may re-freeze. When this happens, thick ice will accumulate, and this creates pooling water just above the ice dam. Unfortunately, a roof is designed to be impermeable to water that is flowing downward. It is not impermeable to water that pools on the roof. Water leaks are one of the most significant types of property damage associated with ice dams. They may also result in damaged gutters, fascia, soffits and more.
Preventing an Ice Dam
The good news is that you can prevent this type of damage from occurring if you take a few steps. Ideally, your entire roof will remain cold, and no internal heat will impact its surface temperature. To accomplish this, you need to have high-quality insulation evenly spaced throughout the attic. You may also need to reseal some areas. Improving attic ventilation can also be helpful. Before winter arrives, take a closer look at trees near the home. Trees can grow substantially during the warm weather season, so branches and limbs that were not a problem last year may result in uneven roof heating this year. Pruning and trimming before winter arrives is a helpful preventative step.
Removing an Ice Dam
If you notice signs of an ice dam forming, you may be inclined to grab an ice pick or another sharp tool and start chipping away at the ice. However, that can result in tremendous damage to the roof. Salt may be helpful, but it can fall off of the roof and harm your vegetation. There are a few safer and effective ways to deal with an ice dam. For example, you may place a box fan in the attic to promote improved circulation. You may also use a special raking device that is made specifically for this purpose. This special rake may change the temperature of the roof almost immediately. Another idea is to use calcium chloride as a deicer. Or, cat litter! An easy way to apply the calcium chloride or cat litter to the roof is to stuff it into a pair of nylon pantyhose.
Dealing with Water Damage
If you remove an ice dam quickly, you may not have to deal with the effects of water damage from a roof leak. However, if you are like many others, you may not realize that an ice dam has formed until it is too late. Insurcomm is your leading source for water damage repair from ice dams and other issues throughout New England. We provide our clients with a fast response and effective remediation and restoration services. Water damage may become more problematic over time, so it is best to address this issue head-on.
The best time to prepare for an ice dam is well before cold winter weather arrives. Spending time improving ventilation, and insulation throughout the attic and pruning tree branches are essential before each winter season arrives. You also need to be observant throughout the winter so that you can take pre-emptive steps if an ice dam begins to form. Reach out to Insurcomm immediately for restoration services if your home is damaged by water.