With energy costs rising, you probably have already sealed any cracks and drafts around your windows and doors to make your home more energy efficient, but have you considered the financial impact of heat loss through your ceilings? While drafts around doors and windows will cost a few more dollars in heating bills, heat loss through your roof can result in thousands of dollars in damage. Why?
The answer is ice damming.
Ice damming happens when snow on your roof begins to melt and freezes before it has a chance to run off. Usually, this is caused by warm air leaking from your house into your attic. The warm air heats the roof’s surface and causes the snow to melt. As the water runs down your roof, it freezes near the roof’s edge and an ice dam starts to form. This process repeats itself a few times and eventually creates a dam made of ice that prevents water from draining away. Inevitably, this water backs up under the shingles and into your home.
The key to preventing ice dams is to make sure your attic is properly insulated so that the warm air stays in your home and the cold air in your attic. Experts recommend having a minimum of 8 inches of R20 insulation on your attic floor. However, insulation alone may not prevent ice damming. Heat that escapes from light or ceiling fixtures, attic access hatches, exhaust fan systems, chimneys or other perforations in your ceiling can increase the risk of damming.
Here’s what you can do to prevent ice dams or minimize the damage it causes.
Preventing an Ice Dam
- Insure that your attic is adequately insulated
- From inside the home, seal any perforations in the ceiling
- Ensure your soffit vents are not blocked by insulation
- Take measures to draw more air into the attic through the gable and eave vents
- Keep roof vents free of snow so cold air can circulate in your attic
- If you are installing a new roof, have the contractor install roof felt or install heating cables as an interim measure
- If you suspect your home is susceptible to ice damming, consult an expert who can use diagnostic tools to identify problem areas providing opportunity to prevent damage from occurring
What to do if an Ice Dam occurs
- Consult an expert, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE, should you climb out on your roof to inspect or attempt to remove the ice dam yourself
- Take pictures and call us
- Remove any damaged contents and move any undamaged contents out of harms way
- Contact a local restoration contractor to inspect and take immediate and necessary preventative action