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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Stopping Ice Dams

4/7/2021 (Permalink)

roof with ice ice dam, water damage

Seems a little late in the season to be talking about Ice Dams, but now is the time to correct some issues which may have caused them.

Ice Dams are thick ridges of solid ice that build up on the lower part of your roof line, preventing melting snow from reaching your gutters.

First we need to understand how an Ice Dam forms:

  1. Heavy snow fall and sustained cold weather prevents roof bound snow from gradually melting away.  This leaves an enormous amount of snow on your roof.
  2. Heat then collects in your attic and warms the roof, except the eaves.
  3. Snow then melts on the warm roof and then freezes as the melted water approaches the cold eaves.
  4. This water them re-freezes.  Ice accumulates along the eaves, forming a dam.  Once this ice dam forms, it blocks ongoing melting snow from escaping into your gutters.
  5. Melted snow water has nowhere to go except back up the roof line, under the shingles and finally into your home.

Preventing Ice Dams

Following are some steps you can take now to prevent Ice Dams in the future.  Speak with a contractor for each, if you're not handy.

  1. Use Heated Cables: heated cables, placed along your roof edge, will help keep snow melting before it freezes
  2. Ventilate Eaves And Ridge: Place baffles at the eaves to maintain a clear path for the airflow from the soffit vents.
  3. Cap the Hatch: Cover unsealed attic hatches with weather stripped caps made from foil-faced foam board held together with aluminum tape.
  4. Exhaust to the Outside: Make sure that the ducts connected to the kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents all lead outdoors through either the roof or walls.
  5. Add Insulation: Make sure attic insulation is not missing in any area.  This will keep heat from entering the attic space from your home.  The attic should not be a heated space.
  6. Flash Around Chimneys
  7. Seal and Insulate Ducts
  8. Caulk All Penetrations

If you do experience an Ice Dam situation, here are some quick fixes to prevent further damage until the ice and snow can be removed from the roof.

  1. Rake the Snow before it can accumulate and freeze.  There are long handle snow rakes you can purchase.
  2. Blow Cold Air at the source.  This will help to re-freeze the ice dam and prevent water from entering the home until the roof can be cleared.
  3. De-ice the problem area by filling an old panty hose with calcium chloride and place it where the ice dam has occurred.  This will cause a gradual melting of the ice.

Finally, DON'T:

  • Throw rock salt on the problem.  This could damage the roof shingles and shrubs.
  • Hack away at the ice.  You could damage your roof and this is a dangerous fall hazard.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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