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Dealing with ice dams

Dealing with ice dams

What happens is snow builds up on the roof and starts a process of melting and refreezing.

A common problem that plagues homeowners during winter is ice damming. What happens is snow builds up on the roof and starts a process of melting and refreezing. After time this process causes an ice dam which makes it impossible for water to drain properly off the roof. Then as snow and ice continues to melt water accumulates and starts to leak into the attic and eventually into the house. The gutters get filled with ice which traps water causing more build up. Ice dams can cause lots of problems like interior damage, mold, peeling paint or a heavily damaged roof and attic. So what causes ice dams? – a warm roof. And the key to solving this is to make the roof colder by installing insulation or more insulation in the attic to keep it out of the eaves and soffit vents. Easier said than done. You have to understand that melting is caused by the difference in temperature between the inside and outside of the house along with the right ventilation and insulation. So the key to solving ice dam problems is to make the roof colder.

Quick fixes for ice dams would be to remove them using a mallet. Tap the ice dams and break them into small pieces until they’re gone. Just be careful not to damage the shingles. Cleaning your gutters and downspouts also help a lot. Another good way is to make trenches through the ice dams by putting calcium chloride on a tube of cloth and lay it across the ice dam. This will melt the middle of the ice dam to create a path for water to flow freely. For a long term solution, you can install heating cables in the gutters and downspouts and turn them on only when you need it. Just remember to turn them off because it warms the roof.

Prevention on the other hand involves improving the insulation in your house. Identify and seal all areas where warm air goes through from the living space into the areas below the roof sheathing. Ventilate the space between the insulated area and the roof sheathing to carry away conducted heat. Another way is to put ice and water shield underneath the shingles. It may cost a little more but ice and water gives your home added protection from the elements.

Having your roof and gutters checked is the right step towards preventing ice dams in the winter. So give Masterpiece Roofing & Painting a call and we’ll give you a free inspection.