What Are Ice Dams and Why Are They Formed?

The attic is a part of the house that is typically underappreciated and is often just an awkward space for storing junk.  Surprisingly for most homeowners, the attic plays a big role in controlling the entire house temperature, acting as a ventilation system where the excess heat within the house rises into the attic. An insulated attic is the beginning step to decrease heat and energy loss. Having an uninsulated attic can lead to several problems, including the formation of an ice dam.

 

Ice Dam Buildup

An ice dam is a buildup of ice at the base of the roof along the gutter, caused by melted snow that refreezes.  A pool of water from melted snow develops and the longer this pool of water sits, the more time the water can find cracks in your roof.  The major reason behind the ice dam occurring is a combination of poor attic ventilation and the snow acting as an insulator.

 

Attic & Snow Duo

Uninsulated attics in the winter can be problematic, especially during heavy snowstorms.  After a heavy snowstorm, the bottom layer of snow begins to melt due to the roof’s heat.  When the underside of the roof in the attic is higher than 32 degrees, the snow melts, running down the roof.  If your gutters are not given proper care, the water then builds up, causing water to sit and eventually form to ice.  After another big snowstorm, the process repeats itself, leaving more water to sit behind the ice build up.  When there is little time between snowstorms, the snow becomes a powerful insulator, making the outside of the roof’s surface warmer and melting the snow faster. 

 

 

Ice Dam-age

Ice Dams can be extremely problematic for homeowners, and the damage is not always noticed right away.  The sitting water on the roof seeps into the cracks of the roof, getting into your attic and walls.  The most common ice dam effects are ceiling cavities and peeling or blistered wall paint.  There is also the chance of mold and mildew formation.  The attic insulation can be affected as well, which creates recurring problems for the interior and exterior of the house.

Ice Dam Prevention

Ideally, you want to avoid ice dams from ever forming in the first place. To do this, you will need to tackle the problem at its source – your attic and your roof.

You want to create a situation where the roof always remains close to the outside temperature, requiring removing heat sources within the attic and creating sufficient ventilation through the attic and roof.

Insulation- Ventilation – Air Leakage

 

Keeping Your Gutters, Clean Helps Stop Ice Damming

Keeping gutters clean is something that every homeowner needs to stay on top of. Although cleaning out the gutters can be unpleasant, especially if many leaves have been allowed to accumulate and rot, cleaning is still necessary to prevent roof problems.

Ice dams will have a harder time forming if the water is allowed to flow off of the house and down the gutter as intended. Cleaning out the gutters has the added benefit of preventing damaged gutters when a freeze comes, as accumulated debris that is wet will freeze. The debris can become thick enough to rip off the gutters.

If you are selling a home in the winter, it becomes even more paramount to keep up with your gutters’ maintenance.  Ice dams can be a serious problem, so make sure you are prepared for the winter season with an insulated attic.

Give us a call at Lion Home Service and we are happy to do a Free Roof & Gutter Assessment , show you Leaf Relief options, or do a roof/gutter repair for you, we can also help with blown insulation! . We work with all insurance companies on your behalf and also offer $0 Down – 0% Financing. We serve Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Longmont, Boulder, Windsor, Wellington and the surrounding areas. Contact us today 970-399-9940 to schedule an appointment with the best roofing company in Northern Colorado!