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Expert Tips

Ice Dams: What Are They and How Can They Be Prevented?

By December 18, 2020No Comments

While it may be fun to build a snowman this winter, snow (and ice) bring some not-so-fun things for your home. Ice dams are not only a wintertime nuisance, but they can be very damaging to your home. The good news is that they can be prevented before they cause a lot of damage.


What Is an Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a large chunk of ice that forms on the eaves and gutters of your roof. 

If your roof has warmer spots that are above freezing and cooler spots that are below freezing, snow on your roof will melt near the warmer spots and then refreeze at the cold edges of the roof. When this happens, an ice dam forms on your roof.

Source: University of Minnesota

While these ice dams may look harmless, if they continue to melt and refreeze at different spots on your roof, they can be damaging to your home.  Melted water seeps under the shingles of your roof, drips through your insulation, and down into your walls and ceilings. The water inside your walls can peel the paint off, cause unsightly stains, and be worse, become a breeding ground for mold and mildew leading to thousands of dollars in damage and respiratory issues from the mold.


What Causes Ice Dams?

To better understand these winter monsters, what exactly causes them?

Just-below freezing temperatures are the perfect conditions for ice dams to form, days where the temperature is around 30-32°F. If spots on your roof are just above 32°F on these days, ice dams will form as the snow melts on those warmer spots and refreezes at the cold spots. 

Another culprit for ice dams: hot attics. Hot attics in the winter are caused by a lack of, or ineffective placement of, attic insulation. If you have warm air seeping out of your attic, the surface temperature of the warmer spots on the roof will cause water to melt, causing an ice dam.

How Can I Prevent Ice Dams?

As hot attics cause hot roofs, you can prevent ice dams by properly insulating your home and ventilating your attic.  

At Briggs Roofing Company, we are able to provide your roof with proper attic ventilation to prevent ice dams. 

On days that have that just-below-freezing temperature outside, carefully rake the lower edge of your roof as much as possible to get rid of the snow. If there is no snow on the edge of your roof, it is unlikely for an ice dam to form. 

Take preventative action and spare your home and roof from the dangers of ice dams!

It is important to NOT attempt to remove an ice dam yourself. This is extremely dangerous and can severely damage your roof. If you must remove it, you can use a calcium chloride ice melt.  Be sure not to use rock salt or sodium chloride which can cause damage to the roof.  Remember, if you are using a ladder in snowy and icy conditions you need to make sure you are safe. 

Don’t let the fear of ice dams keep you from having some fun in the snow this winter! Briggs will help you prevent ice dams, which will keep your home free of awful water damage! For a free quote, call (208) 745-9002 or visit our website using our online contact form.