Icicles hanging along the eaves of your house may look beautiful, but they spell trouble. That’s because the same conditions that allow icicles to form, snow-covered roofs and freezing weather, also lead to ice dams. They are large ridges of ice that form on the edges of roofs, created when your attic warms the bottom layer of snow on the roof above it. The warmed snow then turns to water and travels to the cold, extended eave, where the water freezes again, and ice builds up. Flat roofs are especially susceptible to ice dams, as are gutters since they hold snow and ice. Gutters, downspouts, your roof and your home can all be damaged by ice dams. Ice Dams can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back up and pour into your house. The results are peeling paint, warped floors, stained and sagging ceilings. Not to mention soggy insulation in the attic, which reduces the material’s ability to resist heat transfer and becomes a magnet for mold and mildew.
Effects of Ice Dams
The most immediate danger is damage to shingles, gutters and downspouts. The sustained presence of Ice Dams will allow the accumulation of snow melting and refreezing along the edge of your roof and increasing the ice block size. If water stands long enough it could also begin to rot your roof.
Internally, large ice dams cause water to seep under shingles and eventually into your insulation. Over time it could travel through ceilings and walls into sheetrock and paint, damaging interior building materials, rooms, your attic and any belongings that might be stored there. This leakage and moisture can ultimately lead to mold growth, as well. Unfortunately, the damage isn’t always so obvious as Ice Dams can be rather sneaky. Water enters the home or office building very gradually. The first area to show damage is usually the attic. And since the attic is seldom visited, the damage often goes unnoticed. Once the problem is realized, the damage has usually spread from the attic into other areas of the home or office.
Preventing Ice Dams
We’re used to shoveling a sidewalk or driveway but we often forget about the snow that’s fallen on our house or office. The best way to prevent an ice dam from forming is to incorporate roof maintenance into the post-snow shoveling routine. Please note, we recommend you use a professional service. Clearing snow from a roof can lead to disastrous results. When clearing the snow, you want to remove the first 3 to 4 inches of snow to prevent the ice dams from forming. The best way to do this is to use a roof rake or a long-handled brush. In some cases, that means that you might be able to remove the snow without the use of a ladder. Try to clear the downspouts so that the melted water has a chance to drain properly.
If the ice dam is too large, consider cutting a channel through it that will allow any standing water it’s blocking to drain properly. While you never want to use rock salt on your roof, you can use calcium chloride to melt the ice dam and allow water to once again flow freely.
When to Call the Professionals
When it comes to safely removing stubborn ice dams or repairing the structural damage, it’s often better to call for help. Working with professionals who are equipped with the right tools, rigorously trained and experienced, will ensure your personal safety and protect the integrity of your home.
Water that has found its way into insulation and wall cavities must be thoroughly dried or else mold or mildew can begin to grow. Also, water that is left trapped in these areas can result in swelling and rot of the structural components hidden in the ceilings and walls. Our certified technicians use moisture inspection tools to find the trapped or hidden moisture. After the moisture is found, specialty drying tools are used to dry the affected materials to prevent further damage.
Xtreme Home Improvement is Central Pennsylvania’s leading specialist in water removal, cleanup and reconstruction when your home or business is damaged from Ice Damming and water leaks. We can provide a custom solution so that you and your family can back to enjoying the final weeks of winter. Call us today for a free inspection and quote.