Ice Dams: Causes, Dangers and Preventions

With cold temperatures and possible snowfall in the area this upcoming week, we can all agree that we are officially in the winter season. Preparing your home for the winter is essential in preventing any major damage. Preparations such as checking your windows and doors for leaks and gaps, cleaning out or replacing old gutters, checking for damage on your roof and taking proper precautions to prevent an ice dam development are all important. Ice dams could lead to substantial damage to your roof, gutters and the overall integrity of your home. We share multiple tasks you could complete to avoid an ice dam from happening

What is an ice dam?

An accumulation of frozen water in the gutter system and at the roof edge that prevents subsequent drainage of melting snow from leaving the roof/gutter system.

What causes an ice dam?

Ice dams are caused due to lack of ventilation in your attic. When the heat is on inside your house and rises it leaks the hot air up through the roof. This in turn creates warm areas on the roof, which causes the snow in that area to thaw. Once the snow is fully melting, it glides down the roof’s slope until it reaches the frozen overhang on the edge where it refreezes and is consistently built up to a dam structure.

What is the danger of an ice dam?

This build up of snow and ice can be very dangerous to the integrity of your home exterior. It could tear off your gutters, loosen shingles, and eventually could lead force water to back up underneath the shingles which may cause a leak through your ceiling and into your home. It’s possible that ice dams could also cause decaying, corrosion and mold to form in your attic and on the wall surfaces.

 

As you can see, ice dams could be very dangerous to the structure of your home and could eventually become pretty costly to repair. So how do you prevent this from happening?

Ice Dam PreventionGutter Maintenance Clogged or older gutters do not cause ice dams to happen, but they tend to make the issue much worse. Cleaning out or replacing older gutters could easily save you the headache of an ice dam because it will prevent the initial foundation of ice to form along the edge of your roof.

Proper Insulation The best way to stop ice dams from forming in the first place is to make sure your attic is insulated well. This keeps the heat inside where it belongs.

Ventilation A ridge vent paired with continuous soffit vents circulates cold air under the entire roof. Both ridge and soffit vents should have the same size openings and provide at least 1 square foot of opening for every 300 square feet of attic floor. Place baffles at the eaves to maintain a clear path for the airflow from the soffit vents.

Cap the Hatch An unsealed attic hatch or whole-house fan is a massive opening for heat to escape. Cover them with weatherstripped caps made from foil-faced foam board held together with aluminum tape.

Exhaust Make sure that the ducts connected to the kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents all lead outdoors through either the roof or walls, but never through the soffit.Sealed Can Lights If you have recessed lights, replace them with sealed can lights to minimize referred heat to the roof.Seal and Insulate Ducts Spread fiber-reinforced mastic on the joints of HVAC ducts and exhaust ducts. Cover them entirely with R-5 or R-6 foil-faced fiberglass.

 

How MLM can help?

MLM Home Improvement has been using the Owens Corning brand for over twelve years and we are one of only six certified Platinum Preferred Contractors in the area.We are proud to carry Owens Corning products because we know that an Owens Corning roofing system is crucial in preventing damage such as ice dams. Their new WeatherLock Flex Flexible Self-Sealing Ice and Water Barrier is meant to do just that!
Owens Corning WeatherLock® Flex Flexible Self-Sealing Ice & Water Barrier provides excellent roof deck protection against water infiltration resulting from the freeze/thaw cycle, wind-driven rains and normal water flow around eaves, rakes, valleys, vents, chimneys and skylights.

Engineered for asphalt shingles, wood shakes and quarry slate roof assemblies, WeatherLock® Flex also offers:

  • High performance – Flexible and pliable poly surface and modified asphalt combine to adhere around irregular shapes, inside corners and at sharp angles, even in cold-weather applications to 40ºF
  • Added protection – Acts as a waterproof barrier in the most vulnerable sections of the roof, such as valleys and other roof penetrations, to create a second line of defense. For optimal protection, apply to entire roof deck on 2:12 to 4:12 pitch roofs*
  • Aggressive self-adhesive – Exceeds adhesion performance requirements to help prevent water migration
  • Slip-resistant surface – For excellent traction and safe installation
  • Seals tight around nails – Modified asphalt construction for a tight seal around nails to prevent water penetration
If you are interested in Owens Corning roofing systems or have any questions, let us help. Give us a call or send a message today!