“If you seek an ice free roof, just look above you.”
Ice dams on your roof, if you don’t already know, can cause major damage to your shingles, gutters, or even worse, the inside of your home.
The problem is, “What causes ice dams?”
Whether it’s in your home or business, insulation is one of the key factors in how to prevent ice dams.
So What’s An Ice Dam?
Without getting too technical, an ice dam is a buildup of of ice that typically form along the eaves.
As snow on your roof melts, it drains down the roof towards your eaves, a part of your roof that is not insulated.
With Michigan winters being cold as they are, the water passes over the cold eaves and freezes, causing an ice dam.
Over time, more and more snow melts, causing larger ice dams and more risk for water damage to leak into the interior of your home or business.
What Causes Snow To Melt On My Roof?
Just look up….no… not at the sun, in your attic!
Under-insulated attics are one of the major contributors to the formation of ice dams.
If your home or business doesn’t have the proper amount of insulation, heat will escape into the attic, causing the attic temperature to increase. As the attic temperature increases, the roof begins to warm.
Once the roof begins to warm…BOOM!, you have yourself some melting snow, one of the main ingredients for the start of an ice dam.
Now that you know what causes them, here’s how to prevent ice dams from forming.
Got It! Now How Do I Prevent Ice Dams?
Adequately insulating your attic is one of best way to prevent ice dams.
According to the EPA, the average homeowner can save up to 15% on heating and cooling costs by properly insulating their home.
With the proper amount of insulation, more heat will stay in the inside of your home or business, keeping the attic temperature closer to the temperature outside. This will help keep the snow from melting, which will help prevent ice dams from forming.
But before you hire a contractor to inspect your insulation, take a peek for yourself.
- Check the height of the insulation. If the height of the insulation is at or below the top of the joist, you should add more.
- Make sure it is even. Check to make sure that the insulation is distributed evenly across the entire attic. High or low spots can be corrected by either adding or removing insulation.
The right amount of insulation will not only help your heating and cooling costs, it will also help prevent thousands of dollars worth of repairs caused by water damage from backed up water in your attic or walls.
Next, learn how to get rid of ice dams if they have already formed.
How To Get Rid Of An Ice Dam
Too little, too late, right? Not so fast! If you spot an ice dam, there are some steps you can take to help keep it under control, or better yet, eliminate it.
If you know that warm weather is in the near future, don’t wait! Yes, warmer temperatures will help snow melt, but when temperatures start to drop, the melted snow will freeze and you’ll end up with more ice dams.
The name of the game is to be proactive and start working at those ice dams now.
- Rake the Roof! A good way to prevent water runoff from freezing and creating an ice dam is to simply remove the snow from your roof. A roof rake is a safe and common tool used to remove snow from a roof from the safety of the ground. No ladders!
- Use Panty Hose. Yes, you are still reading about ice dams! Filling panty hose with calcium chloride ice melter and laying it vertically across the ice dam will slowly melt the snow and ice, providing a channel for water to run down the roof and into the gutter. Safety note: Using a ladder when there’s snow on the ground is dangerous and should be avoided.
- Fight the Cold with Cold. For a temporary fix, place a box fan in your attic and point it at the area of the roof where the ice dam is forming. The idea here is to use the fan to cool the warmer area of the roof that is causing snow to melt.
- Just DON’T Do It! Avoid using ice melt for sidewalks and driveways. Runoff from these products can damage your plants and other vegetation in the area.
Also, never use a chisel or any other sharp tool to chip the ice dam away. Not only is dangerous to be on ladder at that height in the winter, chipping away at ice can damage your shingles, gutters, and other parts of your roof.
Ice dams can give you fits! With these tips, you should now be familiar with ice dams and the dangers they pose. Of course, it’s always best to get a professional to evaluate your particular ice dam situation before following any of this advice.
Poor insulation, snow accumulation on the roof, and warming and cooling temperatures are all key ingredients for the formation of ice dams and the potential for water damage in your home or business.
If it’s too late and you’ve experienced water damage from ice dams, call the professional mitigation team at Modernistic. For over 40 years we’ve been helping Michigan home and business owners with their water, fire, and mold restoration needs!