One of the most dangerous conditions homeowners face through the long winter months is an ice dam developing on their roof. These naturally occurring dams can cause sudden, severe damage to your home’s roofing, siding, gutters, landscaping, and health if they aren’t promptly dealt with by contractors trained in safely removing them. But just what are ice dams, how are they removed, and how can you make sure that winter’s worst doesn’t start reaching into your home and your wallet? Here these simple tips, tricks, and professional advice to help make your ice dam problems melt away!

What is an Ice Dam?

Ice dam prevention
Exterior roofing

Ice dams are very solid ridges of ice which form around the eaves of a home where the roofing surface is colder than in the middle where factors like increased sunlight exposure, and escaping heat from your home’s attic. This ridge of ice makes it impossible for the melting snow and ice along the middle of your roof to drain off the sides easily meaning that the water either tries to drain by going under your roof’s shingles and into your home, or by pushing even harder on the ice dam, eventually causing it to fall and cause damage to several different components of your home as well as anyone who happens to be underneath the roof or it’s outer eaves when it finally cracks.

Ice Dam Prevention

There are many ways to prevent ice dams from developing and wreaking havoc on your home this winter, though some will be more effective for certain homes as opposed to others. In general, however, following these simple steps in the first few weeks of winter will help reduce the risk of your home developing and suffering from ice dams this year:

Attic Insulation

The snow and ice melting in the middle of your roof is largely due to your home’s heating system causing the inside of your attic to be much warmer than the outside. By having more insulation installed in your attic’s floor you can help keep the heat your home’s HVAC system is generating out of the attic to rooms where it is more desired and less likely to cause issues like ice dams.

Attic Ventilation and Attic Fans

Ice dams form when you least expect it
Fight back against ice dams

Additionally, it's strongly advised to increase the level of ventilation in your home’s attic as a way of getting the inside and outside temperatures to be more suited. This is commonly done by having ridge vents and soffit vents installed around the eaves of your roof which let the cold winter air into your attic to prevent such a clash of temperatures from occurring But for homeowners wary about having vents installed specialized attic fans are available which push any warm air that escapes into the attic back down into the home performing essentially the same job though with less of a guarantee on the results.

Seal Ducts, Exhaust Lines, and Chimneys

There are many spots where the heat your home’s HVAC system is generating can escape upward into the attic. Making sure that all of these usual problem areas are sealed properly and professionally by insured roofing contractors is a quick, reliable way to ensure that your heat stays where it’s supposed to, both decreasing your risk for ice dams and your energy bills with more heat being used efficiently.

Ice Dam Raking

Exterior gutter care

Professionally performed ice dam roof raking is an excellent way to respond to the threat of an ice dam when you begin to notice warning signs like large hanging icicles, water damage in the attic, or especially heavy snowfall. The roof raking service is generally completed very quickly but should only be handled by trained professionals as an improperly raked roof could lead to injury for the homeowner, and damage to the home’s roofing, siding, gutters, insulation, and structural integrity as a whole if the ice build-up is severe enough.

Gutter Cleaning

When your home’s gutters and downspouts are clogged by snow, ice, or leaves from the fall it becomes harder for any melting snow and ice on your roof to drain. Instead it will pool and freeze in the cold winter temperatures at the eaves of your roof, causing an ice dam to develop and worsen the drainage issue even more. Gutter cleaning performed by trained gutter cleaners is a surefire way to get rid of this risk and help ensure that your home stays safe and reliable this winter.

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