The Hidden Dangers of Ice Dams
Is there anything as brilliant and breathtaking as winter in the land of 10,000 lakes? For a few months out of the world, Minnesota is blessed with some of nature’s most extraordinary sights. But while natural ice formations are stunning on wilderness trees, they can be as destructive as they are beautiful when it comes to your home.
What most homeowners don’t realize is that those beautiful icicles hanging from their roofs could be a sign of more serious problems like roof and foundation damage. In this post, our Powers Premier Contracting roofers will break down the hidden dangers of ice dams and offer solutions to protect your Minnetonka home. Give us a call to connect with an insulation contractor today.
What are Ice Dams?
Ice dams are exactly what they sound like they are, acting as a literal dam made of ice for water on your roof. When your roof has ice dams, this prevents water from running off of your roof and into the gutter system.
When snow on your roof melts, it should ideally drain into your gutter canals, where it is then directed away from your home and foundation. Instead, ice dams cause water to run everywhere except through your gutter system. Water that can’t escape your roof ends up seeping into your home through the roof and attic. Once inside your home, this water can cause mold to grow and damage your ceilings, floors, walls, and insulation. Alternately, some water may run over the side in the wrong places.
The damage caused by ice dams can be significant. Here are just a few problems ice dams can cause:
● Loosened shingles
● Structural roof damage
● Wood rotting
● Mold growth inside your home
● Damaged gutters
● Damaged foundation
● Ceiling stains and sagging
● Warped floors
● Peeling paint
Why Do Ice Dams Form?
You may wonder what causes ice to form in the shape of a dam at the edge of your roof. Ice dams are a result of melting snow. They occur when the temperature on your roof is inconsistent due to poor ventilation and insulation.
When an attic is properly ventilated and insulated, the roof’s temperature will remain consistent throughout. This is because good insulation limits the transfer of heat from inside a home to outside the home. However, a poorly ventilated attic will become hotter than it should as the heat rises through your home. With inadequate insulation, its roof will heat to above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, causing snow to melt. When the meltwater reaches the edge of the roof where temperatures are colder, it refreezes, creating an ice dam.
Ice dams also indicate a vulnerability in your home’s thermal envelope. If your home has ice dams, you can assume its energy efficiency is below optimal performance and you’re paying more than you should heat your home. Additionally, it may be difficult to regulate the temperature inside of your home consistently.
Signs of Ice Dams
Short of dragging out a ladder and crawling around your roof, which we heartily do not endorse, there are several much easier ways to identify the possibility of ice dams. Take a walk around your home. If you see plenty of small icicles around your home, this is completely natural and does not indicate a serious problem. However, there are a few places you wouldn’t normally find icicles if your roof is performing correctly.
Look for these signs:
● Large ice formations along the edge of your roof
● Ice behind your gutters
● Ice around your soffit
Preventing Ice Dams
Fortunately, there are several precautions you can take to prevent the formation of ice dams on your roof.
Follow these steps to protect your home:
● Have your attic insulation inspected thoroughly by a professional insulation contractor to determine if it’s time for an upgrade.
● Keep your gutters regularly cleaned, free of clogs, and maintained. Consider installing seamless gutters and gutter covers.
● Have a roofing contractor check your roof to ensure your attic is ventilated properly.
● Ask your roofer to check your flashing around vents and chimneys.
● Consider installing a higher-performing roof.
● Check your ducts to make sure they’re well-insulated and sealed.
Dealing With Ice Dams
If you currently have ice dams on your roof, there are a few things you can do to remove them. Before addressing your ice dams, be sure to look inside your attic for signs of water leaking. Check your insulation to make sure it’s dry as well.
Never climb on a ladder in icy weather. Avoid using a shovel or chisel to chip away at ice dams, as this can damage your roof.
Here are a few things you can try to remove your ice dams:
● Place a box fan in your attic. Locate the area where water is leaking into your roof and aim the fan at it. This will help reduce the amount of water getting into your home.
● Place ice melt inside a pair of nylon pantyhose and place them on your roof.
● If you have a low-slope roof, use a roof rake to remove snowdrifts safely without having to climb on a ladder.
Call a Minnetonka Insulation Contractor
Don’t let ice dams damage your home. Call our exterior remodeling contractors at 612-710-7283 or contact us online for a free estimate on insulation, gutter repair, and more!