We are smack dab in the middle of wintertime in New England. We never know what the weather is going to be like. Are we getting snow, is it going to rain, are we getting a Nor’easter, will the temperature drop below freezing? Because the weather always seem to do its own thing, it is important to be prepared for everything, and this includes preparing your home. The things winter weather does to our home can make a huge impact and one of those is with ice dams. We have provided some simple ways that homeowners can prevent ice dams from happening and avoid the headaches that they may cause to your home.
Why Do Ice Dams Form?
Ice dams are actually produced by a combination of heavy snowfall and your home not being properly insulated. Without the proper insulation, hot air from inside escapes through the roof. This will make your roof warm and will actually melt the accumulated snow. As the snow is melting and runs down your roof, the low outdoor temperature will freeze the water along the edge of the roof which results in the creation of an ice dam. While you may think that these ice dams or icicles are beautiful to look at, they can actually cause severe water damage.
Tips On How to Prevent Ice Dams
- Never heat your roof: You actually want to keep your roof and attic cold. This will prevent the snow from melting and creating ice dams. The snow that has accumulated on your roof will eventually dissipate without producing large amounts of meltwater.
- The underside of the roof deck should never exceed 30 degree Fahrenheit: The best way to maintain low temperatures is to ensure that there is adequate insulation and that the gaps that let the warm air pass into the attic from the home are properly sealed.
- Attic Ventilation: The attic should be ventilated so that cold air is introduced into it and the hot air escapes rapidly. Some contractors think that they attic and roof being hot helps prevent ice dams but this is actually opposite. Although the excess heat moving from the attic through the roof rapidly melts snow, once the melt water touches the cold, it quickly freezes and forms an ice dam.
If you have a furnace in the attic, it may not be possible to prevent ice dams. However, having increased insulation should help.
- First insulate the areas between the roof rafters. It is important to keep an air space between the roof deck and the insulation in order to prevent condensation from building up. Having condensation build up can eventually delaminate the roof deck. Before you insulate, you will want to install polystyrene rafter air channels. This can be found at most local home centers.
- Next lay un-faced insulation batts or blankets over the furnaces heating ducts to help reduce the heat buildup in the attic.
Removing Ice Dams
In all cases the removal of snow will remove the source of potential ice dams
- For low slope roofs or flat roofs, use a heavy duty push broom with stiff bristles to brush off the snow. You never want to use a shovel or snow blower as they could damage or tear up the roof cover system.
- For a steep slope roof, a roof rake is recommended for 1 story homes. This is the safest way for a homeowner to pull snow off the roof from the ground. You do not want to pull the snow back abasing the slope of sideways as it could get underneath the cover and break the shingles.
Even though we are already in the winter season and it might seem too late to prepare, b you can still prepare for what is to come. This can save you time, money, and headaches. If you are unsure of how your home will withstand the elements, call us for an assessment. We will happily point out any problem areas that can be taken care of.