How to Prevent Ice Dams and the Roof Leaks They Cause

Right here we’re within the midst of one other chilly Massachusetts winter and like each winter right here in New England many property homeowners may have main points with ice dams inflicting roof leaks and shingle injury.

Though it could appear as if ice dams are an unstoppable pressure of nature, they’re really fairly preventable. Attics and cathedral or vaulted ceiling areas which were accurately included into the general constructing envelope haven’t got issues with ice dams and icicles within the chilly seasons. Via the usage of correct insulation and air flow strategies ice dams may be stopped chilly (pun supposed).

Right here a typical situation for the formation of ice dams:


  1. A home has a construct up of snow on the roof.
  2. The temperature outdoors is under freezing.
  3. The temperature contained in the attic is above freezing, thus elevating the temperature of the roof itself to above freezing.
  4. Due to the nice and cozy roof, the snow on high of it begins to soften from the underside up.
  5. This melted snow water tries to run down and off the roof.
  6. As quickly because the water reaches the sting of the roof it will get uncovered to the freezing air.
  7. The water refreezes as ice as an alternative of snow within the gutters, if current, and alongside the sides of the roof.
  8. As increasingly melted snow water continues to run down the roof it simply retains freezing behind and on high of the beforehand frozen run off, forming a much bigger and greater ice dam.

So How Do Ice Dams Trigger Roof Leaks?


The melted snow water does not instantly freeze anymore after the ice dam has begun to take form. As soon as the ice dam has constructed up a bit it actually creates a dam that traps the remainder of the water attempting to run off the roof behind it. Whereas this trapped water will ultimately freeze, it could take some time and through that point a portion of the shingles on this roof, behind the ice dam, are mainly submerged in water.

Now after all your roof shingles are clearly suppose to guard your own home from the climate i.e. rain and snow. Nevertheless, most roofing supplies will not be meant to have a pond or river on high of them.

So What Can You Do To Forestall Ice Dams?

In the beginning you could acknowledge that correct insulation and air flow is the important thing(see picture on proper). If we’re speak about an attic space then usually which means the insulation must run up the partitions of your home then over the attic ground joists forming a great insulation envelope. Within the attic situation solely the ground of the attic must be insulated, not the underside of the roof!

Correct air flow can also be required. Outdoors air wants to have the ability to enter the attic in order that theĀ attic temperature is similar because the temperature outdoors. You obtain this air flow by means of the usage of gable vents, soffit vents and a roof ridge vent.

In roof methods with attic areas under them it’s pretty straight ahead to have a contractor that is aware of what they’re doing to appropriate any issues so far as correct insulation and air flow. Nevertheless, roof methods with a cathedral ceiling under them which have these points are far more of a challenge to appropriate, however they are often corrected.

To be able to have a correctly ventilated and insulated cathedral ceiling the contractor should set up baffles inside every rafter bay earlier than putting in the insulation. These baffles permit air to circulate between the soffit vents and the ridge vent which retains the underside of the roof the identical temperature as outdoors. If these baffles ore not put in in your cathedral ceiling then the contractor might want to take away the present sheetrock and insulation out of your ceiling in an effort to correctly ventilate the realm. This kind of challenge might be dearer than an attic challenge.

Along with the ice dam problem, in case your attic is hotter than the surface temperature you’re additionally losing plenty of cash heating that house. So mainly you’re paying more money in your heating invoice for the privilege of rising good massive ice dams and icicles that trigger roof leaks and destroy your Roofers in Central Florida roof. Form of makes it even worse while you consider it that approach does not it?

What Can You Do About Present Ice Dams?

If it is the center of the winter and you’ve got ice dams or by means of previous expertise you suppose they are going to be forming quickly there are some measures you possibly can take. Initially, if you do not have expertise climbing on a roof within the winter, particularly with snow on it, do not do it! Name a professional. What you are able to do is go to your native ironmongery shop and purchase a snow rake that has an extendable deal with designed to drag snow off of the primary few toes of the roof and try to drag a few of that snow off, from the bottom, earlier than it has an opportunity to soften and refreeze alongside the roof edges. You can too do that as soon as the ice dam has shaped and preserve it from getting any larger and provides it an opportunity to soften, hopefully.

Additionally, many roofing contractors, us included, work by means of the winter and sometimes present roof snow removing providers along with their typical roofing providers. It is a service we’re completely happy to supply for our prospects right here in Massachusetts, for instance. Once more, please do not try to do that your self. Between icy ladders and slippery roof surfaces it’s a recipe for catastrophe for the inexperienced.

There are additionally some merchandise available on the market that may help in stopping ice dams earlier than they type and melting them if they’ve already shaped. You must be capable to discover a house enchancment retailer in your space that sells a product that’s mainly a coated, heated wire that you simply fasten alongside the sides of the roof after which plug in when the situations are proper for the ice dams to type (see image on proper). These really work fairly good, nonetheless, they are not fixing the actual drawback which, after all, is air flow and insulation points. They could be proper for some houses in some circumstances although.

Most house enchancment and shops additionally promote pellets or tablets which are designed to be thrown up onto the roof from the bottom. These tablets then supposedly will soften the ice from the roof as they dissolve into the water that’s operating down the roof into the ice dam. I’ve no expertise with these merchandise so I can not say for sure in the event that they work as designed or not. Nevertheless, some folks say they’ve labored for his or her ice dam issues. A few issues I’d be fearful about as a roofing contractor is potential injury to the shingles from the chemical compounds these tablets are fabricated from (salt is not any good for asphalt shingles), in addition to probably staining the roof with those self same chemical compounds. And even in a base case state of affairs this product continues to be only a band-aid for a larger drawback.

Correct Roofing Methods For Chilly Climates

Along with ensuring that the roof has correct air flow and attic insulation there may be an extra stage of safety towards ice dam points and roof leaks that every one accountable and moral roofing contractors must be taking in chilly climate climates with reference to pitched, asphalt shingled roofs. When a brand new roof is put in, as of late, an additional layer of safety referred to as ice and water membrane must be put in from the sting to not less than three toes up the roof.

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