As one of the most important – and expensive – components of your home, your roof should be protected at all costs. This is especially critical as we head into the winter season, where damaging ice dams can form if you’re not prepared. What is an ice dam? It is a large blockage of ice that forms on the edge of your roof, preventing ice and snowmelt from flowing down and away from your properly.
Ice dams are caused by variations in roof temperature: when the snow melts on top, it will slide down to the bottom of the roof and refreeze. Ice dams form when indoor warmth rises into the attic, warming the roof’s surface from below. Snow from the rooftop melts and flows till it hits the edge of your roof, which remains below 32 degrees. This refreezing of water is what is called an ice dam.
There are steps you can take to prevent ice dams from happening in the first place.
1) Seal Attic Bypasses
With one-third of the heat loss in the average home being lost through the ceiling and into the attic, it’s important to find and close all air leaks that can result from gaps in drywall, unblocked walls, and cracks around light fixtures, chimneys, access hatches, plumbing pipes, and other ceiling penetrations.
2) Measure Attic Insulation
Before winter, check the depth of your current attic insulation. If necessary, you may have to upgrade to insulation that has an R-value of 40. If you have less than eight inches of insulation, add more till you get to 12 to 14 inches, which is what is required by many building codes. It’s better to use blown-in cellulose and fiberglass than hand-placed batts, as blown-in insulation will fill more tightly around obstructions such as rafters and joists, leaving fewer gaps.
3) Add Roof and Soffit Vents
Your attic vents will draw in cold outdoor air and push out warmer attic air, which cools the attic and roof. The minimum ventilation area should be one square foot of vent per 300 square feet of ceiling area. Hire a professional roofer to determine if you have adequate attic ventilation. Add more or larger vents if necessary, to ensure your attic and roof won’t get too warm.
4) Install Heat Cables
If you have tried all the above and your roof is still prone to forming ice dams, you can install heat cables along the edge of the roof. These are high-resistance wires that can be mounted on the roof’s edge in a zigzag pattern amd plugged into outdoor GFCI outlets.
If you already have an ice dam, there are ways to remove it, but you should always hire a roofer for this task to avoid damage to the home as well as for safety reasons. An experienced roofer can steam the ice dam off so that it melts slowly.
Contact Allstar Construction for Ice Dam Solutions
Don’t let ice dams sideline your winter fun. Get a free online quote and consultation on a roof inspection so we can make any necessary repairs before the thick of winter. We can make sure your roof and attic can handle the rigors of the upcoming season.