If you recently bought a home in a region that has snowy winters, it's important that you understand as much as possible about ice dam formations on your roof. Ice dams can cause extensive damage. Here's what you need to know.
How Ice Dams Form
When snow accumulates on your roof, heat from inside your attic can melt the snow. However, since the eaves of the roof hang over the structure of your house, the snow on top of the eaves does not melt. The melted snow runs down the roof and accumulates over the eaves where it can refreeze, creating an ice dam.
Melted snow gets underneath the roofing shingles. Water expands when it freezes, which causes the roofing shingles to lift up from the roofing structure and causes gaps to form. When warmer weather sets in, the melted snow and ice can seep in through the roofing structure and into your home. If your roof is damaged, you'll need to hire a roofing contractor to make repairs, especially before the rainy season begins.
How Melted Ice Dams Cause Damage
The melted ice dams can cause significant damage to your house. Inside the structure of your home, the melted snow and ice gets pulled down by gravity and follows the paths of least resistance. Here are a few areas of concern.
- Walls. The water gets into the cavities inside your home's exterior walls. This causes water damage, especially wood rot, and can cause mold to grow. You may see evidence of this phenomenon in vertical brown streaks on the exterior siding of your home. If your home has a brick exterior, the mortar in between the bricks could be damaged by water weeping through the walls.
- Insulation. Keep in mind that the insulation inside your exterior walls will be compromised if it gets wet. The insulation will no longer have the ability to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer if it has been damaged by water.
- Ceilings. You may also see evidence of water damage on the ceilings on the top floor. Gray and/or brown stains will appear when water soaks through the building materials. In severe cases, the stained areas may feel spongy and may even have water droplets forming on them.
- Electrical wiring. Anther area of concern is the electrical wiring in your home, particularly the overhead light fixtures in the ceilings of your top floor. Water damage to the electrical circuitry can cause the wires to short out, which can be a fire hazard.
Of course, if you see these types of damages or suspect that your home has suffered from the effects of melting ice dams, you'll need to hire a water damage restoration service to perform repairs.
How to Protect Your Home from Ice Dams
Prevention is key to eliminating ice dams. It's crucial to have adequate insulation in your attic to prevent heat from rising and reaching your roofing structure. Insulation should be placed directly on the floorboards of your attic. You can do this yourself or hire an insulation contractor to do it for you.
You'll also need to make sure the attic has good ventilation, which can be achieved through vents in the soffit (located under the eaves of your roof). It's also a good idea to have a rooftop vent system to help control the flow of air in your attic. Ventilation in the attic can help remove warm air and moisture. You can hire a roofing contractor to install the vents.
Another way to prevent ice dam formation is to remove the snow from your roof. This can be done manually with a roof rake. Or you can prevent ice dams from forming by installing a heating device made specifically for this purpose. You can purchase a roof rake and/or a heating device through your roofing contractor or at any home improvement store.
If your home has suffered water damage from ice dams, then contact a company like Flagship Restoration.