Preventing and Dealing with Ice Dams
Those icicles can signal big trouble
If you have icicles hanging from your roof and gutters, you probably have what is called an “ice dam”. This winter’s heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures over much of the U.S. has created an epidemic of ice dams, which prevent water from properly draining off your roof. Ice dams can create pools of water that may seep into your home and damage your ceilings, walls and other structural areas. Ice dams usually form because of poor insulation in your attic.
The warm attic air melts the snow on your roof and then the melting snow accumulates in your gutters where it freezes in the cold outside air. Eventually, the ice builds up and subsequent melting snow has nowhere to go but on top of the ice that’s already accumulated.
In addition to causing water damage inside your home, the sheer weight of the ice dams themselves can pull down gutters and ruin eaves.
How do you prevent ice dams?
Here are some tips:
Use a roof rake remove all snow immediately after a snowfall. Roof rakes are available at most hardware and home improvement stores. You should pull down the snow in the direction of your roof’s slope.
Check all areas of your home for places where warm air could leak into your attic. Plug up any areas or gaps that you find. Don’t forget the opening to your attic – check with your home improvement store for ways you can create a better seal. Ceiling “can lights” are also often culprits if they are uninsulated. You may want to call in an expert who is trained to look for and seal leaks.
Make sure that your attic has the proper amount of insulation and that it is properly ventilated. Insulation is important to prevent your home’s warm air from heating the attic. Ventilation allows heated air to escape. To increase ventilation in your attic, you may have to install additional vents. Insulation experts can help with both of these issues.
If you already have an ice dam, chip at it so that you create a channel for the water to flow through. However, make sure that you don’t damage your roofing material. Remove as much ice from your gutters as possible. This can be a dangerous job, so it may be best to have an ice removal expert come out to do the work.
If you already have water damage due to ice dams, call a water damage expert, such as ServiceMaster by Metzler in Chicago, Illinois.