House Effects:  Ice Dams

House Effects: Ice Dams

This winter season has not been good to houses in terms of ice damming.  Many of you have already noticed water dripping in your garage or from your bedroom ceilings.  If you have not noticed anything, stick your head and a head lamp into the attic and look at the plywood for signs of water.

Ice dams started early this season but we are just starting to see their effect now as the temperature gets above freezing.  They are formed through an accumulation of snow around the edge of your roof that slowly turns to water through pressure or melting and then flash freezes.  This cycle builds up enough layers of ice that prevents some of the water collected on the roof from properly draining into your eaves and through your downspouts.  The water pools on your roof behind these ice dams and can eventually seep under the shingles, under the membrane and through the plywood into your attic, garage or any ceiling under the a roof.

Ice dams can be prevented or minimized a number of ways.  Clear the snow from the roof where it is accessible and safe.  Most cottage owners do this as they clear heavy snow accumulation to prevent damage.  Your entire roof surface needs to be a cold zone in the winter.  A high insulation R value in your attic will reduce the amount of heat moving from your house into the attic space.  If you have a ridge beam roof and it was constructed properly, you will have baffles on top of the insulation and a ridge vent cap to allow the cold air to flow.  Both of these situations will prevent snow from melting that contributes to the formation of ice dams.  Lastly, installing heat cables around the roof edges will melt ice accumulation before it becomes a problem.  

The effect of ice dams may require minor repairs and mitigation.  Eaves, drywall, insulation and roofing material will need attention from you or your contractor.

#IceDams  #WaterDamage  #LeakingRoof

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