Those Dam Leaks: Winter Leaks and Ice Dams
With all the snow and cold temperatures this winter, you may have some unwanted icicle decorations hanging from your roof. If you do, then you probably have ice dams building up, which can cause damage to your house. Homeowners can minimize damage from ice dams from years past while preparing for the next winter.
A specialist in roofing problems from Cincinnati, Ohio says a combined short- and long-term approach can help minimize that damage. According to Dale Shoemaker, you can take limited steps to keep existing ice dams at bay in the winter. But it is more important for you to prepare for future years by hitting ice dams at their source. “Ice dams can be prevented by controlling the heat loss from the home,” says Shoemaker.
An ice dam is a ridge of ice developing at the edge of a roof which prevents melting snow from draining off the roof. The dam grows in size as it is fed by the melting snow above it. The water above will back up behind the ice dam and remain as a liquid. This water will find cracks and openings in the exterior roof covering and flow into the attic space. From the attic it could flow into the home and damage exterior walls, insulation and the ceiling finish.
Ice dams are caused by differences in roof surface temperatures. These occur due to heat loss from within. Warm air from the house will rise into the attic space and heat the roof.
What should a homeowner do to deal with ice dams? You can take the following steps:
- Remove snow from the roof. A “roof rake” and push broom can be used to remove snow. However, performing this work on or below the roof can be very dangerous. It’s best to have professionals do this job.
- In an emergency situation to stop water from continuing to flow into the house structure, make channels through the ice dam. Hosing with warm tap water will do this job. Work from the lower edge of the dam up. The channel will become ineffective within days, however, and is only a temporary solution.
- The ice dam can be removed from the house but places the roof and the remover at tremendous risk. This also should be done by professionals.
Written by Dale Shoemaker of Rooftime
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