Ice Dams: Recognition, Prevention, and Treatment

shutterstock_129391922Those icicles hanging along the gutters of your home may look beautiful, but they can also signal trouble. Ice dams are slick ridges of solid ice that buildup over time. When it gets very cold outside, heat collects in your attic, which warms the eaves of your roof. Once the snow melts off of the roof, it slides down and refreezes along the edges. Over time, ice accumulates and forms a dam. The melted water from the warm roof backs up behind it and flows under the shingles. This can potentially lead to water leaking into your home. Although damages can be costly, ice dams are easily preventable and treatable.

Here are six of the most common warning signs for ice dams:

  1. Your home has had ice dams in the past.
  2. You see roof icicles forming on the edge of the roof, or off the front edge of the gutter.
  3. Ice is coming through the soffit.
  4. Ice is forming behind the gutters (if gutters are present).
  5. You see ice or water on the exterior wall.
  6. You see water coming through the frame of a door or window.

How to Prevent Ice Dams From Forming

  • Maintain a regular schedule of cleaning off your roof. If you begin to see icicles forming, remove the snow from your roof immediately.
  • Check your attic for proper insulation. Call a certified professional to provide insulation services.
  • Make sure any penetrations in your ceiling are sealed and insulated.
  • Add heat tape to the lower few feet of your eaves or in any other areas where icicle accumulation is common.
  • If you have rooms with vaulted ceilings, keep them slightly cooler than the rest of your home.

Found an Ice Dam? Here are Some Short Term Solutions!

  • Do not use a sharp instrument (hammer, shovel, chisel, etc.) to take care of an ice dam. This can be dangerous for both you and your roof. Use a long handled aluminum rake to pull off snow.
  • If water is leaking in, take a box fan into the attic and aim it at the underside of the roof.
  • Remember to always keep your gutters and downspouts free of debris to keep water flowing freely and away from your home.

For more information on how to protect your home this winter and mitigate potential damage, call The Insurance Center at 603.542.2551.