Cold winter temperatures and ample winter snow can cause many problems with your home, but one of the biggest problems can be leaking along the eaves of your home caused by ice dams. Too often, that water damage is blamed on the gutters. In reality, leaks from ice dams are a roofing problem, not a gutter problem. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your home from water damage due to ice dams.
How ice dams form
The heat from your attic melts the snow on your roof, except for at the eaves. As water runs down your roof line, it freezes at the colder eaves and an ice dam forms. Those ice dams can cause major damage. Gutters and shingles can be forced off your home. The dams also can force melting water back into your home if your roof has not been adequately waterproofed. That can lead to warped floors, sagging ceilings, peeling paint, stained walls or moldy and weakened insulation.
Quick solutions for ice dams
There are several steps you can take to prevent ice dams from damaging your home. Before the snow falls, you can install heated cables made specifically for preventing ice dams in a zig-zagged pattern along the edge of your roof. Once the snow has fallen, you can use a specialized rake to remove snow from your roof. If you notice ice dams, you can fill a nylon stocking with the specialized snow melt made for sidewalks and parking lots and toss them onto the dams. Never take a hammer, chisel or other hard tool to the roof, as that can damage your shingles and ultimately let more water into your home. If you notice water leaking into your attic, you can point a fan at the wet spot to instantly stop the leak.
Long term solutions for ice dams
Of course, the best approach for ice dams is to improve your home’s infrastructure to prevent dams from forming and, if they form, to prevent them from causing any water damage. The most effective way to prevent ice dams to improve the insulation to your roof, as the heat escape from the roof is what melts snow and causes ice dams and leaks. Improving the infrastructure to your home can and insulation can be costly and an easier solution is adding a water barrier under the singles of your room.
A water barrier is not required for most of the southeast due the few amounts of snowfall we receive every year, but it is code and required for many homes with cold and snowy climates. This water barrier can save you thousands in water damage to hard to reach places of your home. So the next time you have re-roof your home, make sure that a 3- to 6-foot wide adhesive ice and water barrier is placed along the roof’s edge.
While ice dams can cause major home damage, a few preventative measures can protect your home during the winter months and save you from repeated, costly repairs.