Ice dams and icicles are an all too common sight, particularly in the colder and snowier parts of the country. Nevertheless, icicles can pose a danger to people walking underneath them, while ice dams can cause a lot of damage to the roof and gutters. By understanding how these ice dams form, you will be able to minimize or even prevent them from happening in the first place.
How Do Ice Dams Form?
Ice dams and the resulting icicles form when snow accumulated on the upper part of a roof begins to melt. The water then starts to run down until close to the edge, where it freezes. Over time, the ice accumulates, creating the so-called ice dam and exacerbating the problem. If left unchecked, ice can then find its way under the roof shingles where it melts back again.
Once this happens, it can infiltrate into the underlying insulation, soaking it and decreasing its efficiency by a significant margin. This water can also leak through the ceiling drywall and eventually find its way into your living space. It should also go without saying that ice dams add a tremendous amount of weight on your gutters, turning them into a safety hazard for the people below.
But why is all of this happening, in the first place? Well, as many of us know, hot air rises to the highest possible point. If the underside of the roof is above a freezing point, it can also warm the outside of the roof’s surface, causing the snow to melt and begin the ice dam-forming process. It further intensifies after heavy snowfall as the snow, itself, has insulating properties.
How To Prevent Ice Dams From Forming?
There are several ways that you can minimize or even prevent ice dams from forming, in the first place. One of the most efficient means of doing this is by properly insulating your attic. As we’ve mentioned before, the reason ice dams form is that the underside temperature of the roof is above freezing point. It causes snow to melt and freeze at the edge of the roof. By insulating your attic, you will prevent this from happening.
Another way to prevent ice dams is by ensuring proper attic ventilation. It allows a continuous airflow from the underside of the roof eaves (the soffit) all the way to the peak or ridge of the roof. Such a system usually requires insulation baffles at the lower side of the roof to allow the air to pass through. It will help maintain both the attic and roof at ambient outdoor temperature. It will also prevent mold from forming.
There are several other things that you can do to keep your attic and roof cold. You can have a professional take a look at your insulation and seal off any leaks that may be present. It’s advisable that you also cover or insulate your attic hatch or fan openings. Likewise, check for any potential heat sources such as heating ducts, vent fans, water-heating equipment, furnace, etc.
As a maintenance tip, you should also clean your gutters of leaves and other debris come winter. It will prevent clogging, which would otherwise aid in the formation of these ice dams and icicles.
If you’re considering a roof or insulation replaced, 1-800 HANSONS has you covered. Our services come with a full lifetime warranty that includes materials, parts, and labor. Contact us today for a FREE estimate!