Roof Ice Dam Prevention

When winter weather hits, we warn our customers to be aware of the formation of roofing ice dams. Ice dams can cause major leaking in homes, but they are preventable. At Beeson Construction, Inc. we share this for informative purposes only, as we don’t do professional ice dam removal. However, if you act on this information, you can prevent it and the damage it inflicts.

What Is a Roofing Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the roof’s edge in below-freezing temperatures. This prevents melting snow from draining off the roof. Many homeowners don’t notice this happening — until they have a major ceiling leak inside their home and think the roof/roofer is to blame.

In reality, an ice dam has nothing to do with a faulty roof and everything to do with faulty ventilation and condensation inside the home. If your roof is not properly ventilated and ice dams form in the winter, this can cut the lifespan of your roof in half.

How Ice Dams Form

Accumulated snow on a roof should melt as the temperature warms above 32 degrees. However, if your roof has warm spots due to improper heat loss from conduction, convection, or radiation because of faulty ventilation, snow will melt in below-freezing temperatures when it shouldn’t. That sets up a series of adverse events:

  1. The melting snow on your too-warm roof runs down the roof until it hits the edge and below-freezing air temperature.
  2. An ice dam forms at this edge above the gutter.
  3. The dam grows and may even extend over and below the gutter as more snow melts above it. Large ice dams can rip off gutters.
  4. The buildup of water is trapped underneath the dam and finds cracks and openings in the exterior roof, seeping into the attic space.
  5. If water breaches the attic, the ceiling insulation may be damaged or ruined.
  6. It can then spread to walls, ceilings, and other areas of your home.

Roof Ice Removal Quick Fix

For a quick fix, create a channel for the water to run down. Use a long-handled roof rake to shovel the snow off.

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How to Permanently Fix the Problem

Prevent an ice dam by maintaining a constant roof temperature including the eaves:

  • Increase ventilation.
  • Add insulation.
  • Seal off air leaks that might warm the underside of the roof by capping attic or whole house fan hatches.
  • Make sure kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vent ducts are not routed through the soffit.
  • Install steel flashing between the chimney and house framing with a fire-stop sealant (not canned foam spray or insulation).

Keep in mind that by preventing warm spots on your roof, snow will not melt as easily, which we want to prevent ice dams. However, that also means snow will pile up on your roof, increasing in weight. If you live in an area that receives heavy snow, be sure to monitor the amount of snow and the strain it is putting on your roof.

Contact Beeson for Roof Services

By practicing roof ice dam prevention, homeowners can avoid roof damage and water damage to the interior and exterior of their homes. Follow the tips above for best practices on ice dam prevention. Should you need roof repairs, roof installation, or new gutters, request a free estimate now or contact Beeson Construction, Inc. at (317) 754-0677. We serve Indianapolis and the surrounding areas including Beech Grove, Greenwood, Wanamaker, Southport, and Homecroft, IN.

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