Ice dams not as harmless as they seem

ravenlewis's Avatar


03 Feb, 2015 09:46 AM

Those icicles forming on the edge of your roof might look nice, but they’re actually a sign of something anything but pleasant. If icicles are forming on your roof, it could spell disaster. Icicles on your roof are the result of ice building up in your rain gutters. This is problematic for a number of reasons. Here’s why you should take care of this problem immediately.

Roof leaks

One major problem that can result from ice dams is a roof leak. When melting snow refreezes in your gutters and gets backed up, the melting snow has nowhere to go. Eventually, it can seep through beneath your shingles. Once water is under your shingles it can wreak havoc as freezing temperatures followed by warmer weather can cause it to freeze and thaw. The expanding and contracting can damage your shingles and cause roof leaks.

Rain gutter damage

Ice dams also cause damage to the rain gutters themselves. When ice dams become severe enough, the weight of the ice can actually pull your rain gutters away from your home. Without your rain gutters, any rain or melting snow will drip from you roof to your home’s foundation where it can seep into your basement.

Fixing the problem

Though it’s usually exciting to see the snow on your roof melting, it’s problematic when it happens before the weather is warm enough. If you’ve noticed that your roof is the only one on the block without snow, then the insulation in your attic is to blame. The fact that snow isn’t melting on your neighbors’ roofs means that it’s still too cold outside. The snow that is melting on your roof will refreeze once it gets to your rain gutters.

Hacking at the ice dams with a shovel or hammer won’t permanently fix the problem. In fact, it can cause even more damage to your roof. Instead, you need to improve the insulation in your attic space to keep the warm air inside your home from escaping into the attic. Not only will this prevent ice dams from forming, but it will also save you money by decreasing your heating costs.

Once you’ve fixed the root of the problem, you’ll still need to take care of the ice dam. Use hot water or a snow melt that won’t damage your shingles to melt the ice dam rather than trying to break it up. It might be wise to have a roofer come out and inspect your shingles to make sure they haven’t been damaged by the ice dams. You should also inspect your rain gutters to ensure that they are in good shape.

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