During particularly cold or prolonged winter weather, many Indiana homes are vulnerable to a potentially damaging phenomenon: ice dams. These ridges of ice that form at the edge of the roof can result in serious damage to a house’s roof, attic and walls. Fortunately, effective strategies to prevent ice dams can be taken by homeowners.
Why Does an Ice Dam Form?
Ice dams are the result of uneven heating in the attic. In a warm attic, the space below the upper part of the roof gets warmer than the narrow space underneath the edge of the roof. Snow that falls on those upper areas will melt if the attic is warm enough. The snowmelt drains toward the edge of the roof and then refreezes when it arrives at the roof edge. This forms a barrier or dam that blocks additional snowmelt, which in turn pools behind the ice dam and eventually finds a route through the shingles and into the attic or down the house’s walls. If not caught immediately, damage to the roof, attic, and walls can be severe (and expensive).
How Do You Prevent an Ice Dam?
The trick is not to let the attic get too warm during cold weather. This means stopping the encroachment of heat into the attic from the floors below. You can accomplish this with a mixture of effective ventilation, insulation and air sealing. Ridge vents, working with continuous soffit vents, can help bring cool, fresh air into the attic, while batts of fiberglass insulation laid between the floor joists in the attic can reduce the amount of heat that comes up from the living spaces. Spray foam applied on the underside of the roof can prevent heat in the attic from warming the outside part of the roof. Sealing air leaks between living spaces and the attic is also important. Leaks often occur at the attic hatch or door, in recessed lighting, and where ducts or vents protrude into the attic.
For more information on preventing ice dams in your Indianapolis area home, please contact us at Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Brownsburg, Indiana and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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