Ice dams are a common wintertime issue for homeowners here in southeast Michigan. If you get an ice dam on your roof, it’s a sign that your attic is in need of some TLC. The ridges of ice at your roof’s edge keep water/melted snow from draining off, creating structure-damaging leaks. Without taking preventive measures, you may get water damage to your insulation, ceiling, walls and more.
When we experience freezing temperatures for a prolonged period, the highest parts of the roof can actually be over 32 degrees while the rest is lower. Snow in the warmer top area melts, starts to flow down the roof, then refreezes when it hits the colder roof area below. Now you’ve got an ice dam.
Backed-up water from behind the ice dam leaks into the house through cracks in the roof, flowing into the attic. Water may also soak through ceiling insulation, staining the ceiling. This is often how residents first discover that there’s a problem.
Temporary emergency action
If water is actively flowing into the home’s structure, make some channels through the dam so that water backed up behind the dam drains off. Hose off the roof with tap water on a warm day, working your way up from the ice dam’s low edge. The channel will redirect the flow for only a few days.
Warning: Using a push broom or “roof rake” to clear snow from the roof can damage shingles/roofing materials.
Preventing ice dam damage
- Increase ceiling/roof insulation to limit heat loss from the house.
- Make sure your ceiling is airtight by sealing air leaks to block warm, damp air from flowing up into the attic.
- Note: Sealing air leaks reduces natural roof ventilation and increases your home’s snow load. Be sure to maintain a natural attic ventilation system to dry your attic and prevent heat buildup in summer months.
Need assistance preventing an ice dam on your roof? Contact the experts at Aladdin Heating & Cooling. Visit our website for valuable HVAC advice, troubleshooting guidance and new product information–or just give us a call.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about ice dams and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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