What Is An Ice Dam?
Ice dams are caused by on-and-off periods of melting and freezing, just like the weather we have been experiencing. Snow becomes a layer of insulation on your roof, which warms up the air in your attic. Your warm attic then causes the snow to melt and roll down to the edge of the roof and the soffits. Unless the melted snow is able to drain properly, it will freeze and build up over time creating ice dams.
Throughout the winter, if this cycle keeps going and the ice dams spread up the roof, water will eventually work its way under your shingles and get into your attic. The water can seep into your insulation, causing it to fail. As a result, warm air from your home will rise into your attic, making the ice dam grow.
Ice damming is a vicious cycle. If you don't take care of it right away, it's going to get worse. Over time, wet surfaces attract mold, which cause breathing problems and make repairs much more expensive and labour intensive.
5 Things To Watch For
- Icicles On Your Roof - This is one of the first signs that you have an ice dam. Icicles building up indicate that your gutters are full and the melting water has nowhere to go.
- Dark-Coloured Icicles - The colour is usually caused by dirt from inside your house and means you probably have an ice dam. Discoloured icicles are caused by water coming into your attic, picking up dirt and taking it back outside.
- New Water-Stains On Your Ceilings - If you see stains on your ceiling during the winter, you probably have an ice dam. Water stains can appear on every floor of your home. It can also run down the inside of your walls and pour into your basement. This is a pretty good indication of a dam.
- Melted Snow On Your Roof - Take a look at your roof and those of your neighbours. Is your melting the same or different? Are there places on the roof where the snow has melted more than others? More at the top or more at the bottom? If you have different types of melting, you might have ice damming.
- Dams - Lastly, are there hills or mounds of ice running along the bottom edge of your roof? That's a good sign that you have ice damming.
2 Tips To Help Prevent Ice Damming
- Keep The Snow Load Down - You should always keep the snow load on your roof to a minimum to prevent it from causing an ice dam. However, we don't recommend climbing on top of the roof yourself. Use a roof rake or hire a professional to clear away excess snow.
- Clear Your Gutters And Downspouts - Melting snow and icy water need somewhere to go. Clean leaves out of your downspouts and gutters in the fall. And then dispose of ice, snow and gunk regularly throughout the winter. Break off any icicles that develop around the roof of your home.
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