Preventing & Removing Ice Dams
There are a lot of ways Mother Nature can wreak havoc on our homes in the winter, with ice dams being at the top of the list! In the last few weeks, parts of the Midwest have seen snow … which means Berks County and the rest of Pennsylvania and the East Coast aren’t far behind!
Every winter, Team Hitchcock helps dozens of homeowners who have experienced water damage inside their homes due to an ice dam on the outside that wasn’t handled properly. Right now is the perfect time of year to be sure problems spots from previous winters are taken care of, to avoid ice damming again.
What Causes Ice Dams?
Ice dams are typically caused by a combination of poor roof and/or attic ventilation, and a warm attic space. Clogged gutters add to the problem. Ice dams form when snow at the peak of your roof melts and runs down toward the colder eaves, which are out away from the home. While the snow turns to water on top of a warm roof with a warm attic space beneath, the eaves have no access to that heat – so when the water reaches the eaves, it freezes … and then compounds.
Why is this a Problem?
Good question! You would think your roof and gutter system could support a little bit of frozen water, right? Sadly, that’s often not the case. As the ice accumulates along the eaves and inside the gutters, the weight builds and builds, putting a major strain on the roof and gutters. Gutters and roofs can be severely damaged by the weight; in some instances, gutters completely fall off of homes – doing damage like breaking windows and ripping off shingles on the way down. This is a major safety hazard that could really damage your home and hurt someone who might be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Plus, as the water from the ice dam melts, it can seep its way into the roof sheathing, and begin leaking into the house. If it enters the attic, it will likely soak the insulation and eventually work its way down to your drywall ceilings, into walls, and into your living space.
Preventing Ice Dams
The good news is, with some proper preparation and a little elbow grease by you or a reputable contractor, ice dams are preventable. Two of the best ways to keep them from happening is by having adequate attic insulation, and proper roof ventilation. Essentially, you want the roof to remain as cold as possible.
On top of those two items, here are a few other easier things to do to prevent pesky ice dams:
- Keep your gutters clean. Be sure those fall leaves are cleared out before the weather gets too cold. This will ensure snowmelt and water always has a place to go.
- Reduce heat sources in the attic. Even heat sources like uninsulated recessed lights in the room below the attic can allow enough heat up into the attic to create a problem. Also, pay attention to ductwork and bathroom exhaust fans that might need to be better insulated.
- Use a roof rake to keep your roof free of heavy snow. Experts say removing several feet of snow from the roof’s edge can help prevent ice dams from forming.
If you end up experiencing any type of water damage to your property, don’t forget that Berk’s County has the top-rated restoration company ready and available to help. Call the professional team at Hitchcock for all of your emergency water damage restoration needs.