Ice Dams: Prevention and Removal
Water dripping into your house in the middle of winter could be assign that you've got an ice dam. Here is what you need to know and do, courtesy of the University of Minnesota.
What are ice dams?
Ice dams are a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home causing damage to walls, ceilings, and insulation.
What causes ice dams?
Ice dams occur when a snow-covered roof is warmer than the eaves (the roof overhang). This snow on the roof melts and runs along the roof to the colder eaves where it freezes, eventually causing an ice buildup. Water is trapped behind the ice and enters the house or attic by way of seams in the building paper and roof decking.
How do I handle an ice dam?
Carefully remove snow from the roof, using a "roof rake" or push broom.
If water is flowing into the house, create channels in the ice dam by hosing the roof on a warm day, working upward from the lower edge of the dam.
WHN Tip: Avoid using sharp instruments, such as axes, to break channels through the ice. This is likely to cause roof and structure damage.
Do not use salt to melt snow or ice from roof. It will rust nails, damage gutters and downspouts, and ruin next year's lawn
If the dams are bad, contact a legitimate and insured local company to remove the ice dams.
How can I prevent ice dams from forming?
Seal leaks to prevent warm moist house air from escaping into the attic space.
Add additional ceiling and/or roof insulation. (Click here for a US Department of Energy insulation guide.)
Ventilate the attic through windows and louvers when insulation is added to the attic floor. This will help reduce moisture condensation in the attic.
Use electric heating cables along the eaves if insulation or ventilation is not possible. (Click here for more information.)
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