Ice dams form at your roof’s edge, and stop water (or melting snow) from draining off your roof. Water instead backs up behind the dam, and then can leak into your home. This can cause water damage to your home’s walls, ceiling structure and insulation.
Ice dams form when there is snow on your roof, and the higher portions of the roof’s surface rise above freezing, or 32 degrees, because of heat loss from the roof. However, the lower sections of the roof remain below freezing, so as snow on the higher portions melts and flows down the roof, it hits the lower, colder section, and freezes into an ice dam.
To help prevent ice dams:
- Seal air leakage: Common areas for air leaks include chimneys, under exhaust fans that are ducted in your roof, above a leaky attic-access hatch, or spots where a knee wall meets the ceiling. Remove the roofing material, seal, insulate if necessary, and then replace the roofing. You may need to consider relocating or extending exhaust systems that reach just above the roof in areas of heavy snow fall. A well-sealed roof should not require ventilation, but this is one way to guard against air flow.
- Install proper insulation: You can add insulation to the attic ceiling, walls and floors, after you fix any air leaks. If there isn’t much space for insulation, be sure to use dense insulation material with high R-value per inch to reduce heat loss. R-value is the measure of an insulation’s resistance to heat flow.
- Provide ventilation: Leave a ventilation passage under the insulation sheath from the soffits (panels covering the undersurface of eaves) to the roof’s peak. This will help prevent moisture buildup and mold, ruined insulation and damaged wood.
Questions about ice dams? Contact the professionals at Mowery Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing. Visit our website for details or just give us a call.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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