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Identifying And Handling Roof Ice Dams

Identifying And Handling Roof Ice Dams

This winter has been relentless with the number of snowstorms we have been hit with over the past few weeks. The increased snowfall and below-average cold temperatures can cause long-term roof damage. Ice dams, for example, can be the result of the winter season. An ice dam is a wall of ice that forms along the edge of the roof when melting snow continues to thaw over the warmer portions of the roof and then refreezes along the roof’s colder eaves. The melted water pooling behind the ice dam then gets trapped and creates the potential to leak into the home causing damage to your walls, ceilings, insulation, and other structural areas.


What Causes Ice Dams?

Ice dams form due to the interaction between heat loss from a house with snow cover and outside temperatures. There needs to be snow on the roof and higher portions of the roof’s outside surface must be above 32 degrees Fahrenheit while lower surfaces are below 32 degrees Fahrenheit at the same time. So, the snow on the roof’s surface that is above freezing will melt. As this water flows down the roof, it will reach the portion of the roof that is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and freeze thus causing the ice dam.


These ice dams grow as they are fed by the melting snow above them, however, they will limit themselves to the portions of the roof that are below 32 degrees. The water above will back up behind the ice dam and remain a liquid. It will then find cracks and openings within the exterior roof covering, flowing into the attic space. From the attic, the water could flow into the exterior walls or even through the ceiling insulation staining the ceiling finish.


Ice Dam Control

Preventing ice dams will require controlling the heat loss from the home. An immediate action step you can take is to remove the snow from the roof. This will quickly eliminate one of the ingredients needed to form the ice dam. If you are looking for more long-term action, you will first want to make sure the ceiling is air-tight so that no warm or moist air can flow from the house into the attic space. Once you have sealed those air leakage paths between the house and attic space, you will need to increase the ceiling or roof insulation to cut down on heat loss by conduction. 


Some of these actions may require the assistance of a roofing professional. So, if need be, contact Greene Roofing today! A professional will be able to evaluate your roof and determine which aspects need immediate attention and can perform the necessary repairs to keep your roof safe from ice dams and other problems. Give them a call at (718) 941-1111!

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