Insulation Series 2: Beware the Ice Dam

The term “Ice Dam” might evoke images of a serene landscape in the snow, but ice dams can be treacherous on your Dayton roof. As we learned in the first article in this series, improper insulation can lead to high energy consumption, but it can also cause havoc on your home.

An ice dam could be the reason you find yourself with a leak in your ceiling or your neighbors taking a pick axe to their gutters. They are a reminder that taking a proactive approach to your home may save you money down the road.

What Are Ice Dams?

They are exactly what they sound like. A lot of water blocked by a line of ice. In nature, the occurrence can produce some picturesque scenery. On your roof, they tend to cause more headaches than anything else, that and icicles.

How Poor Insulation and Ventilation Play a Factor

When the temperature of your roof is above 32 degrees, it begins to melt. Simple right? However, there are two scenarios when you see snow melting on your roof: 1) GOOD: snow should only melt when the temperature outside reaches above freezing 2) BAD: the house’s heat is leaking up through the attic. In the second scenario, water flows down the slope of your roof. Once the melted snow arrives at your eaves and is exposed to a part of the roof that does not cover your living space, the water forms an ice dam, which causes additional melted snow to back up around your shingles. With nowhere to go, the backed-up water seeps into your walls and ceilings, which can cause stains, or worse, mold and mildew. Adding proper amounts of insulation is critical because other factors out of your control can cause ice dams. They include the following:

  1. Another concern is the rooftop snow itself because it acts as an insulator.
  2. A thick layer of it on top of your home can lead to a warmer roof and more melted snow.
  3. Highly fluctuating temperatures also exacerbate the ice dam problem.
  4. Odd roof shapes, ones that include valleys and dormers, can also keep water backed up on your roof.

Why Preparation Goes a Long Way

Working on your roof and gutters amid heavy ice and snow is dangerous. It sounds pretty obvious, but lo and behold, each winter we find people braving the elements to try and melt the ice that is crowding their gutters. By taking time during the fall and early winter, before the snow and ice arrive, to make sure your gutters are clear of any blockages. Installing gutter guards is another great way to keep leaves, twigs, and other debris from piling up in your gutters and setting up the potential of ice damming.

 Where Do I Find a Fix?

In a frosty morning, your roof becomes a map for vulnerabilities in your attic where heat is escaping. On the plus side, the experience folks at Van Martin can use it as a blueprint to address chinks in your home’s armor.

If you’re tired of scraping icicles off your eaves, stop putting it off. You are your home’s advocate. Call Van Martin today!

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