Ice dam signs
Signs you are developing an ice dam.

Preventing Water Damage from Ice Dams

You wouldnt think that snow could cause extensive damage-even flooding- to your home. But if you made it through the winter of 2015 with no leaks in your house and you had snow and icicles hanging off of it like in this picture you are lucky, very lucky. We have had many calls from local homeowners with wet ceilings, wet walls, drips coming from the moldings around ceilings doors and windows. In some cases it was minor but in several homes it caused major damage. And if left untreated can cause mold and other problems. The main issue is when we have as many snow storms as we did, with few thaw times in between you get an ongoing freeze buildup. In most cases if the attics are kept cold and the home is well insulated this will not occur but in certain cases where roof angles come together, when solar radiation causes melting, and when you have heat melting the snow from underneath and refreezing ice dams occur and can eventually lead to water intrusion.

What is an Ice Dam and how does it cause leaks?

An ice dam causes flooding in a home by allowing water to puddle on the roof and in a lot of cases ice has backed up disrupting the lay of shingles so water will seep underneath and make its way into the home. The only way to stop this from occurring and prevent home flooding is to destroy the dam. This allows the water to run off the roof and doesn’t intrude into the structure. In a lot of cases this is a difficult thing to do because of access. If not done properly it can damage your roof and if you arent careful it can damage you. Working on a ladder or walking on an icy roof is hazardous to say the least.

What Can You Do to Prevent Ice Dams?

The most important thing is to stop the ice and snow from building up on your roof. This can be accomplished by using a snow rake to remove the last 3-4 feet of snow from the edges of your roof. This is easier said then done. Increasing insulation in the summer months and making sure your attic stays cold so there is limited under-melt is a prudent step to take. The added insulation will save you money on heating (and cooling) costs and prevent hot air from escaping from the main home area building up in the attic and creating ice dams. Another option is to install heat tracing lines along the edges of roofs and gutters so these areas remain ice and snow free no matter how bad the winter becomes. In many cases this work can be done by a roofer or local handyman and will save you lots of headaches and worry when next years cold weather arrives. Lets hope next winter is milder but with global environmental change occurring who knows what will happen. Some relatively easy maintenance now will save you trouble and heartache when next winter rolls around.