How to Prevent Ice Dams on Your Roof

Ice dams on roof

Is there anything you can do to prevent ice dams from forming on your roof in the winter? Are icicles hanging from your eaves a sign of a problem?

While not all icicles are a concern, the large kind can show you have a larger ice dam buildup on your roof. The more snow we get and the more temperatures fluctuate, the more likely ice dams will form on your roof. You want to avoid this as much as possible.

Ice dams can damage and weaken your shingles and rip off your gutters. Most importantly, they can cause melted water to pool, seep into your attic, get your insulation wet, and make your paint peel. The entire structure of your home can become damp. If you don’t treat it, you are looking at a considerable mold problem, rotting wood, and damaged drywall.

3 Things you can do to prevent ice dams this winter

Check the Insulation in Your Attic

If your attic isn’t insulated enough – if there’s not a good enough barrier between the warm air coming up from inside your home and the cold air from outside, the warm air will end up melting the snow that falls.

This is not a problem if it’s just a dusting of snow, but we all know how much snow Michigan can dump on our roofs. The warm air will melt under a layer of snow, and it will re-freeze in your gutters, building up over time and becoming very heavy.

The outer layer also traps warm air causing a snowball (pun intended) effect. Water tries to find a way out – usually down into your home, but in your attic where you can’t see it right away. You need about 12-14 inches of insulation sitting on the floor of your attic space to make that good barrier. If you go up there and you can see the 2 x 4’s on the floor through your insulation, it’s not enough.

Check Intake Vents in Your Roof

You need a balanced ventilation system in your attic. The cooler your attic stays, the less likely you will get a backup of condensation forming ice. You need 1 foot of ventilation for every 150 feet of living space. Even the best insulation isn’t going to be perfect. Your home does, after all, need to breathe. Your attic needs to be pulling cold air in from outside to combat the warm air rising from your heated home.

Examine Your Bath Vent

Sometimes an improper installation of a bath vent can cause extra heat to build up in your attic even if the other things are in place. You won’t know unless you have your attic inspected, but even recessed lighting too close to the outside of the roof or damaged flashing around your chimney can cause extra heat to melt the snow on your roof.

In addition, if your bathroom is venting right into the attic – as we’ve seen before – this is a huge headache. Make sure, if this is happening, you have the vent properly fixed.

Bringing it Home

If you get these three things taken care of before winter, you are very likely to protect your roof from the elements. Be sure you call an experienced roofer, though, if you suspect you still have a problem. A sound roof means a safe and dry home. If you live in Southeast Michigan, please contact us today.

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