Ice Dams Can Ruin Your Roof: What You Can Do To Prevent Them

Ice on the roof is a wake-up call for the homeowner; it means your home is losing heat and it’s at risk for water damage and even structural damage.

Ice dams are the result of varying temperatures on your roof during cold weather. Near the peak of the roof, where more heat is radiating from the attic, snow melt flows down the slope. At the same time, snow and ice on the colder, lower part of the roof block the melted snow from draining into the gutters. Some of the water from the melted snow freezes again, becoming part of a ridge of ice forming near the edge of the roof. This results in water backing up on the roof, which eventually will seep under the roof through cracks and seams and into the attic and house. Water damage from these leaks can be extensive and unsightly – and also costly. Trapped water in the framing members of the house can cause mold and rot, threatening the structural integrity of the building.

The unwanted warming of the roof is a result of household conditioned air rising into the attic through air leaks and inadequate insulation. Ice dams don’t form when the house is tight and energy efficient.

Many homes, especially older ones, were built with the minimum thickness of insulation required by building codes, and that means your heating system is working harder to compensate for warmth escaping into the attic. Houses in our winter climate should be insulated to a factor of at least R-38 – typically 14 inches of insulation on the attic floor – to increase resistance to the flow of warm air. Use caulk to seal air leaks between your living spaces and the attic, and weatherstripping to seal the attic hatch or door.

These steps will help keep your warm air in the house where it does some good, while preventing damaging ice dams on your roof.

For more expert advice about ice dams and how to prevent them and other issues related to home comfort, please contact us at Cool Power, LLC. We’ve been serving Long Island with quality HVAC services since 1975.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Hauppauge, New York and the Long Island area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about ice dams and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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