Ice dams sometimes occur on sloping roofs in climates with freezing temperatures. When the temperature in your attic is above freezing, it causes snow on the roof to melt and run down the sloping roof.
When the snowmelt runs down the roof and hits the colder eaves, it refreezes. If this cycle repeats over several days, the freezing snowmelt builds up and forms a dam of ice, behind which water ponds. The ponding water can back up under the roof covering and leak into the attic or along exterior walls. The right weather conditions for ice dams is usually when outside air temperatures are in the low 20s (°F) for several days with several inches of snow on the roof. Research shows keeping the attic air temperature below freezing when the outside air temperature is in the low 20s can reduce the occurrence of ice dams. Research has shown sun exposure in the winter has little effect on attic air temperature. Rather, it’s the warm air from living spaces below penetrating into the attic that is the usual culprit in the formation of ice dams. If you see water staining at an exterior wall or ceiling where there is snow on the roof above it, act quickly to avoid extensive damage. But to keep from making the situation worse here are 5 tips to avoid further roof damage:
- Do not routinely remove snow from the roof. It will likely lead to shingle damage.
- Do not attempt to “chip away” the ice of an ice dam. It will likely lead to shingle damage.
- Do not install mechanical equipment or water heaters in attics, especially in cold climates.
- Do not use salt or calcium chloride to melt snow on a roof. These chemicals are very corrosive and can shorten the life of metal gutters, downspouts and flashings. Runoff that contains high concentrations of these chemicals can damage nearby grass and plants.
- Consult a professional for the best way to avoid ice dams and water damage in your home.
If you need us to come out right away because you have a roof leak, contact us. We have 24/7 Emergency Service available! We can tarp your roof if necessary to drastically minimize the damage to your home in even the worst storms.