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Everything Minnesotans Should Know About Ice Dams This Winter

Everything Minnesotans Should Know About Ice Dams This Winter

You may know all too well that ice dams are damaging, since they form big layers of ice chunks at the bottom edges of your roof eaves, destroying your shingles and creating an ongoing saga of problems.

Whether you are a Minnesota native or you recently moved to the Midwest, where average snowfalls are higher, you’ll need to learn about these annoyances and how to tackle them head on.

Read all about ice dams in this quick blog, then contact Powers Premier for a roof inspection – a sure preventive measure!

What Are Ice Dams?

An ice dam is a build-up on the eaves of sloped roofs of heated buildings that results from melting snow under a snow pack reaching the eave and freezing there.

This freezing at the eave prevents the drainage of meltwater, which further adds to the ice dam, causing the backup of the meltwater.

How Much Damage Can They Cause?

Dams can cause havoc in so many ways – water leaks are the worst. What are the results?

  • Loosened shingles
  • Structural roof damage
  • Wood rotting
  • Mold growth inside your home
  • Damaged gutters
  • Damaged foundation
  • Ceiling stains and sagging
  • Warped floors
  • Peeling paint

When Do They Occur?

Ice dams occur after a heavy snowfall. Warm air in the attic causes the roof to warm and the snow to melt.

Water running down the roof refreezes when it reaches the roof’s edges, where it’s colder, forming an accumulation of ice.

How Can You Prevent an Ice Dam?

Below are a few temporary and permanent fixes to prevent a damaging ice dam from occurring. It’s better to be proactive than reactive with this situation.

Heated Cables

Heated cables, when attached with clips along the edges in a sort of zigzag pattern, offer a quick fix prevention method to be done before the bad weather hits. This equalizes your roof’s temperature by heating it from the outside.

Socks With Rock Salt

This is another quick preventive solution which is not ideal to last for the entire winter storm season. Fill up several tube socks with rock salt, and throw them every few feet or so.

By doing this, you break up the dam from forming, allowing the water to trickle off rather than forming icebergs.

Ventilate Eaves

This is a permanent solution which in the long run will keep you worry-free. A ridge vent paired with continuous soffit vents circulates cold air under the entire roof.

Note: A soffit is the underside of an architectural structure such as an arch, a balcony, or overhanging eaves.

Exhaust to the Outside

Make sure that the ductwork connected to the kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents all lead outdoors through either the roof or walls, but never through the soffit.

Cap the Hatch

Another permanent remedy is to cover an unsealed attic hatch with weatherstripped caps made from foil-faced foam board held together with aluminum tape.

Add Attic Insulation

The idea is to stop the transfer of heat through the roof, which triggers the freeze/thaw cycle. An extra layer of insulation will help prevent heat transfer and help retain heat inside your home.

Ice Dam Removal

If you were too late to heed to the preventative measures, here are a couple of quick ways to remove an ice dam. You can also check out our other removal tips on our blog.

Quick Fix Socks

As mentioned earlier for a quick prevention technique, this also works when the snow has already fallen. Fill socks or tie cut pantyhose sections with calcium chloride, such as Morton’s Safe-T-Power – the same stuff used for melting ice on driveways and sidewalks.

Ideally, lay the hose onto the roof so it crosses the ice dam and overhangs the gutter.

Breaking the Chunks

Only used as a last result. This is not ideal for anyone unless you are an extremely cautious homeowner. Or better yet, hire a professional to clear the roof of excess snow and melt drainage channels in the dam.

As ice begins to melt, the edges of the channels can be very carefully chipped away – at a vantage point – with a particular mallet, such as TEKTON’s 16-ounce fiberglass rubber mallet.

Never ever use an ax, iron hammer, or hatchet, because you’re more likely to create more damage than before. Breaking an ice dam can also result in large chunks of ice crashing off the roof, breaking windows, and possibly injuring someone, so extreme caution must be taken.

Contact Your Local Roofing Experts

Trying to handle ice dams while they’re occuring can be a nightmare, and what’s more, allowing them to sit there eventually starts to create even more problems for your home. Be proactive!

At Powers Premier, we understand how weather damage can affect a homeowner.We can perform a roof inspection, insulation updates, and whatever else your home may need to keep it safe from weather havoc!

We also specialize in windows, gutter, and siding repair services. Our storm repair contractors arrive at every project prepared and are professional. Call us at 612-710-7283 today, or fill out our online form for a free quote!