Ice Dams - The Only Things You Need to Know
We’ve all seen ice dams. The bevy of built-up snow, paired with sparkling icicles hanging thick from the roof. Unfortunately, this winter beauty is a real beast for your home.
The damage ice dams cause ends up costing homeowners and insurance companies millions of dollars every year.
Even the smallest ice dams can cause major problems.
Below, we’ve answered all your ice dam questions & then some…
What Problems do Ice Dams Cause?
Typical ice dam problems include:
- Ceiling Leaks
- Water-Stained Ceilings
- Damaged Gutters
- Peeling Paint
- Sagging Drywall
- Soggy/Moldy and Damaged Insulation
- Dislodged or Damaged Shingles
- Framing Damage
- Even Complete Roof Cave-Ins
Ice dams as thin as 1 inch can cause problems. The thicker the dam, the more at-risk you are for damage.
What Causes Ice Dams?
There are 3 things required to cause an ice dam:
- Heat (to melt the snow)
- Cold Temperatures (to freeze the melted snow into ice)
Ice dams occur when snow (even just a dusting!) settles on the roof.
Then…the heat. The “heat” that melts the snow can be caused by warmer, above-freezing temperatures; however, it can also be caused by heat escaping from the house and warming the roof.
When below-freezing temperatures hit, the melted snow turns into ice and forms a “dam” along the eaves.
Am I Vulnerable to Ice Dams?
The short answer is if you’re living in Wisconsin, you’re vulnerable to ice dams. However, some homes are more vulnerable than others.
If you have 1 or more of the following, you are more susceptible to an ice dam:
- Low Pitched Roof
- Split Level Home
- Varying Roof Angles
- Dropped Ceilings
- Heated Garage
Tree coverage and sun exposure can also increase the likelihood of an ice dam.
How Do I Prevent Ice Dams?
Preventing ice dams starts with identifying the source that’s causing the ice dam to form in the first place. However, there are some general guidelines you can follow to help lower your risk.
- Standing on the ground (3-4 feet away from the edge of the roof) & angled away from the roof, use a long-handled roof rake to gently remove snow
- *For safety reasons, we strongly advise against the use of ladders or standing on your roof to remove snow
- Make sure you have sufficient attic insulation
- Caulk or otherwise seal gaps that allow warm air into the attic or to the underside of the roof
- Clear gutters, drains & downspouts of debris before the first snowfall
- Make sure the chimney is properly sealed and flashed
- Make sure duct work is sealed and insulated
What if I get an Ice Dam this Winter?
Unfortunately, most people don’t know they have a problem until they find themselves filing an ice dam insurance claim, so if you have an ice dam this winter (or think you might have one), contact us right away.
The faster we can investigate and remedy the source(s) of the problem, the less likely you’ll suffer home damages.
Fixing an ice dam right away could mean the difference between hundreds of dollars and thousands of dollars, so take proper precautions now before Mother Nature rears its head….we all know it’s coming; This year, we’ll be prepared!