The "Need-To-Know" About Ice Dams

What is an Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms on the lower edge of a roof. When this ridge forms, it prevents water from melted snow from draining off of the roof. Ice dams are problematic because they can cause water to back up, which causes damage to homes if left unrepaired.

Ice dams form when snow on the upper roof melts and snow on the lower roof freezes. When this happens, water is trapped behind the ice dam. With nowhere to go, the water finds cracks in the roof and flows into the attic. Attic insulation becomes soggy as the water continues to travel downward, soaking into wall and ceiling plaster and causing further damage.

Ice Dam Prevention

There are short-term and long-term ways to prevent ice dams from forming. Short-term solutions include snow removal using a roof rake, disbursing calcium chloride to melt snow and ice, or making channels for the water to flow off of the roof. Cleaning gutters in the fall before it snows is another way to help prevent ice dams from forming. If gutters are clogged, water will have a harder time escaping.

Long-term solutions to prevent ice dam formation are ensuring that your roof is in good condition, your attic is properly sealed and insulated, and your roof is adequately ventilated. Part of the reason roofs experience ice damming is the escape of heat from within the home. Heat rises, and if the attic is not sealed, the heat will cause the upper roof to warm and melt the snow. A well-vented attic space can help with this. Cool air will enter through the vents and help regulate the temperature of the roof. Having a well-maintained roof will help limit the entry points of backed-up water, decreasing the potential damage.

Repairing Damage

Damage from ice dams can occur in the form of roof damage, sagging gutters, interior leaks, water-stained walls or ceilings, peeling paint, damaged plaster, moisture, and mold or mildew. The repair process depends on how much damage is done by the dam. Homeowners may be able to remove snow and melt the ice using calcium chloride, but there is no way to know how much harm has actually occurred until a professional inspects the damage.

Professional restoration contractors like Atex Builders are able to inspect your roof, attic, and interior to determine the extent of the damage and provide an estimate for repairs. More often than not, homeowner’s insurance covers the cost of your loss when ice dams occur. Atex Builders is able to provide fast, efficient ice dam solutions regardless of whether or not extensive damage has occurred. There’s no way of knowing how much harm has been done without scheduling an inspection, so it’s best to call a professional when combatting ice dams.

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