Owning a home in an area with heavy winters full of snow requires significant forethought into potential issues, as the possibility for winter weather related problems is fairly significant in homes. Ice dams can be one of the more devastating problems. Understanding how they form can pave way to solutions and keep the issues at bay.
What Are Ice Dams?
Ice dams are pretty self explanatory; they are large hunks of ice that form on the edge of a roof from snow that has melted due to an under ventilated roof. Once the ice dam forms, the warmth of the attic will continues to melt the snow, sending the water down to pool up behind the ice dam, getting into the home through shingles and possibly ruining many things in the process. Ice dams don't only form if the attic isn't properly ventilated, they can also form naturally with the melting of snow and refreezing overnight.
Can You Prevent Them?
Obviously, prevention is key and given that snow is the culprit, keeping the roof of the home cleared of snow is the most effective way to be sure an ice dam doesn't form. Be sure to be careful when moving the snow, as push brooms and other tools can damage roofing materials and shingles. Having a roof vent will also allow for the air in the attic to cool, thus slowing the melting process for the snow on the shingles above. However, it is not always so cut and dry. Down spouts on gutters can also become clogged with debris and snow, eventually causing build up which leads to ice dam formation. It's important to check the gutters thoroughly to prevent ice dams.
So How is an Ice Dam Removed?
It is tedious work that will be time consuming and, if large enough, will need to be done by a professional roofer, such as A-1 Roofing & Siding. If it is small enough, however, simply break the ice away with a blunt hammer or mallet. Using a sharp tool like an axe will only lead to damaged and severed shingles. You can also use chemicals such as calcium chloride to melt away the ice. However, once the ice dam is melted, the chemicals will leach into the ground and damage surrounding plants.
Ice dams can be dangerous in many ways, on top of costly. Leaving town for the holidays could mean returning to a house curtained in sheets of ice and a wet attic. While prevention is always the best first step when dealing with outside forces, mother nature is generally unforgiving and the preventive measures are not always successful. The roof of the home must be in great condition in order to avoid the risk of a terrible accident or collapse which could be devastating. Stay armed and alert during the winter months and the roof should come out generally unharmed.