What’s Happening Under Those Icicles?

abelins | January 26, 2016

We all know that snow topped roofs are a beautiful sight during the Wisconsin winters but we rarely think about the effect that snow has on the structure of the roof.

 

We all know that snow topped roofs are a beautiful sight during the Wisconsin winters but we rarely think about the effect that snow has on the structure of the roof. Beneath the surface, a dangerous and costly problem may be hiding from an unsuspecting homeowner. An ice dam is a ridge of ice that is created at the edge of the roof, and prevents the water from melted snow to run off the roof. This water builds up behind the dam and can cause many problems to the home.

Ice dams are formed when heat from the inside of a building rises into the attic, and melts the snow that is closest to the roof’s surface. The snow that isn’t melted, near the bottom of the roof, is where the dam is formed. When the melted water backs up behind the ice dam, problems to your home arise. The pool of water can begin soaking through the roof and ruin the interior of the home (wet insulation and drywall, rotted wood). The water may also re-freeze and become too heavy for the gutters to support, causing them to collapse. One sign that you could have an ice dam is having icicles hanging from your roof.

Ice dams may be prevented if you take the right steps. If you are planning on re-roofing your home you can install a moisture barrier before installing the roof covering. If re-roofing is not in your current home updating plan, there are plenty of other preventative steps you can take:

-Make sure that your gutters and downspouts are free of leaves and other debris prior to the first snowfall

-Remove snow using a push broom or snow rake.

-Install ice shield around the edge of your roof

-Move heat sources that are located in areas directly under the roof.

-Insulate light fixtures that are directly under the roof (Example: Recessed lighting in cathedral-like ceilings).

-Seal and insulate any access doors, walls, vents, or electrical lines in the attic.

 

There are some ways to remove an ice dam, but you should exercise extreme caution when doing so and stay off of your roof if at all possible. Some things you can do are:

-Use a push broom or snow rake to pull the dam off of the roof.

-If water is already leaking into your home, you can chip into the dam and form channels so that the water can flow through and run off the roof. When doing this, be sure that you aren’t harming the shingles.

 

We hope these tips will help you avoid the damage ice dams can cause!

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