What is an ice dam?
An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof which prevents melting snow from draining as it should. The water that backs up behind the ice dam can leak into the home and cause damage to walls, floors, ceilings, insulation, and other areas.
Where do ice dams happen?
Most ice dams occur on the lowest edge of your roof as described above. We frequently find them in other locations, such as unheated garages and porches, valleys, above & below skylights, vents & pipes, low pitched roof sections, and chimneys & furnace flues. Ice dams can occur anywhere that heat escapes through the roof.
What causes ice dams?
Roof ice and ice dams result from the escape of heat into the attic or roof space. This heat builds up and eventually melts snow on the roof, which, as described above runs to the cold edge of the roof and forms an ice dam. Factors such as ventilation, insulation, solar orientation, tree coverage, home architecture, snow cover, homeowner lifestyle, and weather conditions all interact to determine ice dam activity on every home.
Where is ice dam damage?
Damage to the roof is often subtle and not noticeable. The noticeable damage occurs inside the home. Damaged roofs leak on attic insulation. In the short term, wet insulation doesn’t work well. Over the long term, water-soaked insulation remains compressed, so that even after it dries, the R-value is not as high. The lower the R-values, the more heat is lost. This sets up a vicious cycle: heat loss-ice dams-roof leaks-insulation damage-more heat loss! Cellulose insulation is particularly vulnerable to the hazards of wetting.
Water often leaks down inside the wall, where it wets wall insulation and causes it to sag, and leaving uninsulated voids at the top of the wall. Again, energy dollars disappear, but more importantly, moisture gets trapped in the wall cavity between the exterior plywood sheathing and the interior vapor barrier. Soon you can smell the result. In time, the structural framing members may decay. Metal fasteners may corrode. Mold and mildew may form on the surface of the wall. Exterior and interior paint blisters and peels. As a result, people with allergies suffer.
Peeling paint deserves special attention here because it may be hard to recognize what’s causing it. Wall paint doesn’t usually blister or peel while the ice dams are visible. Paint peels long after the ice—and the roof leak itself—have disappeared. Water from the leak infiltrates wall cavities. It dampens building materials and raises the relative humidity inside the wall. The moisture within the wall cavity tries to escape (as either liquid or vapor) and wets the interior and exterior walls. As a result, the walls shed their skin of paint.
Tips on preventing damage
Preventing damage from an ice dam is pretty straightforward. It’s all about being proactive. When you think you may have a problem, it’s time to call Berlet Roofing. Don’t wait until ice dams are on the news. If you do, you will have to wait in line to get your ice dam removed, which can sometimes be a matter of days or weeks. It’s better to bite the bullet and address things before you have a real problem on your hands. Here are just a few ways that Berlet Roofing can help: have the snow removed from your roof, check the attic for adequate insulation, ensure good roof ventilation, make sure your roof is in good condition, or install heat tape. Prevention is the key.
Call (970)846-9816 today for your free inspection!