How to Prevent Ice Dams on Your Roof

Ice Dam on Roof PictureAn ice dam is a thick ridge of solid ice that builds up along the eaves at the edge of your roof. Ice dams prevent melting snow (water) from draining properly off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into your home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas. Plus, dangling icicles are dangerous to people below. So what’s a homeowner to do? The pros at A+ Insulation explain the causes and the solutions for homeowners with ice dam problems. Read on to make this winter ice-dam free.

Ice Dams Cause Damage to Roofs, Gutters, and Even People

While groups of long icicles hanging from your roof may look pretty, they are very dangerous. The weight of the ice keeps increasing and can loosen shingles underneath, cause water to back up into your house, and even tear off gutters. Not to mention the danger of an ice dam, or a portion of one, breaking loose and hurting someone below.

Why Ice Dams Form

Ice dams form when your roof is warm, but the eaves are cold. The problem here: your roof should not be warm. A warm roof means heat (energy) is escaping through your roof. When the roof gets too warm because heat has collected in the attic, it causes the snow on the roof to melt. It melts, runs to the edge of the roof to enter the gutter, but freezes on the cold eaves that have no warm air underneath. As more snow melts, more ice freezes at the edge essentially forming a dam of ice. Water from the melting snow then backs up behind it and can flow under the shingles and into your home.

What to Do with Existing Ice Dams

To prevent ice dams, you could lay heated cables attached with clips along your eave in a zigzag pattern to keep the eaves warm. Unfortunately, you have to install the cable before any ice dams have formed. Here’s a cheaper tip from the This Old House website. First, don’t get your pantyhose in a bunch…simply take a pair of old pantyhose and fill a leg with ice melt granules. Then, lay the pantyhose perpendicular to the gutter in the middle of the ice dam. The ice melt will slowly melt a hole there allowing the water to reach the gutter averting any leaks in your home from water backup.

Permanent Fixes for Ice Dams

To get rid of ice dams for good, you must keep your entire roof the same temperature, including the eaves. This requires increasing the insulation, sealing any leaks from your home to the attic, and making sure your attic has proper ventilation. A professional insulation company like A+ Insulation will take care of all of those problems. That’s what we do when we install insulation in your home. A ridge vent (vent along the peak of your roof) combined with soffit vents along your eaves keeps your entire roof from getting warm. An unsealed attic door or whole-house fan opening can let a lot of heat into your attic. We seal those as well. We seal around electrical cables and vent pipes with a and also look for any spots where light shines up from below or the insulation is stained black by the dirt from passing air. Then we add insulation to the attic floor to keep the heat below in your home where it belongs. Not only will new insulation keep ice dams from forming, it will reduce your energy bills as well.

If you’ve had trouble with ice dams in the past, give A+ Insulation a call at (913) 281-2250 or (816) 268-7511 and let us add insulation and seal your attic before the winter snows arrive.