How to Prevent Ice Dams

Once again mother nature has brought the biting cold and blowing snow of winter to many of our states. The winter snow brings many fun outdoor activities but its effects can wreak havoc on a home if proper precautions are not taken. The most common winter dangers to a home can be avoided through proper insulation.

For instance, in states where snowfall is common snow can become built up on the roof of a home and result in damaging ice dams. If a home is not properly insulated the heat from the attic can melt built-up snow and cause water to drain underneath roofing materials damaging the home.

Tips to Prevent Ice Dams

Prevent ice dams

Anyone can prevent ice dams with a few extra steps.

Adequate insulation ensures that the underside of the roof deck remains cold allowing snow on the roof to melt without creating standing water. There is a misconception among some contractors that heat passing through an attic will help to prevent ice dams. In fact, attics should be ventilated so that heat can escape when cold air is introduced into it.

There are many homes that have a furnace in the attic and this presents a problem when trying to prevent ice dams. It may not be possible to guard against them if a furnace is present in the attic but increased insulation can help mitigate the threat posed by ice dams.

Homes that do have ice dams on the roof will show signs on the interior ceiling in the form of dark, shadowy lines. This is the result of trusses in the attic that have been left exposed while the spaces between them have been filled with insulation on the floor of the attic. The trusses are exposed to the low temperatures and create cold strips where condensation begins to build and results in the growth of mildew in the ceiling of a home.

If mildew growth is present it can be cleaned with a solution of three-quarts warm water and one quart of bleach. The dark lines that have formed as a result of the mildew growth may have to be painted over after the mildew has been removed. It is important for homeowners to be vigilant and address the first signs of ice and snow buildup that can result in the formation of an ice dam.

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