Ice dams are an everyday sight for homeowners living in cold, snowy climates. Ice dams are often a mystery to the uninitiated. An ice dam accumulates ice along the roofline’s lower edge, where it exceeds the home’s edge.
Ice dams are much more than an intriguing phenomenon. The weight of severe ice dams can reach hundreds of thousands of pounds. This can cause roof eaves to collapse. Meltwater from melting shingles can build up and flow under them, causing damage to ceilings and walls. This can cause severe damage to your Fuquay Varina, Holly Springs, and Raleigh roof, gutters, and paint.
Why would one house have large blocks of ice covering its roof eaves while the homes next to it only have a thin layer of snow on their shingles? The attic is usually the answer.
Ice Dams: What Causes Them?
When the snow melts on the roof’s warmer side, it creates an ice dam. The water then flows to the colder part of the roof, freezes. The ice will then accumulate, and the ice forms a blockage, preventing snowmelt from flowing off the roof.
The ice begins to build up under the roofing shingles and melts again.
It will soak the roof sheathing, causing it to leak into the attic. It then soaks the insulation, making it less efficient. Now, it could leak through the ceiling drywall and into your living area. Large ice dams can be extremely heavy and damage gutters. Even worse, they pose a safety risk to those below.
How to Prevent Ice Dams
It is easy to prevent ice dams. It is very easy to prevent ice dams by keeping the attic and roof deck cold. There are ways to prevent Fuquay Varina NC ice damming.
1) Ventilation beneath the roof deck keeps the outside air cooler and prevents heating above the freezing point. This allows snow to melt on the roof.
2) Insulation in the ceiling under the attic. This will stop warm air from rising into attic space to melt snow.
3) It blocks heat sources that may be contributing to high temperatures in your attic.
Ventilation to Prevent Ice Dams
Good attic ventilation is an excellent way to avoid ice dams. Cool outside air is circulated in the attic space to keep the roof’s surface below freezing so that snow cannot melt. Contrary to popular belief, a cold attic does not mean ice dams.
There are many ways to improve attic ventilation
Ridge Vents: You can create continuous airflow from your roof’s peak to the soffit if the spaces between the rafters have been insulated. Insulation baffles are required for a soffit and ridge vent system. They should be installed on the lower side of your roof, above exterior walls. Baffles are used to hold the insulation back by 1 to 2 inches. The baffles are essential because thick insulation can block airflow through the soffit vents. This combination of insulation baffles and a ridge vent allows for airflow up through the baffles to allow outdoor air to flow uninterrupted.
Other Ventilation: Ventilation can also be provided using soffit vents or gable vents to intake air and conventional roof vents to exhaust air. Fuquay Varina Ventilation systems should provide at least 1 square foot of ventilation for every 150 square feet of attic space. Net-free ventilation refers to the area of open vent openings, minus any screening or obstructions. The roof deck will stay cool enough to keep snow off it by allowing adequate ventilation from the attic or rafter spaces, and this will prevent roof dams from forming before they can start.
Insulating to Prevent Ice Dams
Insulating the ceilings in living spaces below or on the roof inside surface is best to reduce temperatures. Insulating your attic floor is necessary if you have an open attic. Protecting the rafter spaces in a finished second story with a ceiling directly against the roof will be required. These insulation methods will stop heat from rising to the roof deck, heating it until it reaches the temperature where it can melt snow.
As crucial as insulation is, sealing air channels below the attic from the living area is equally important. Gaps around pipes and chimneys can allow heat to flow into the attic through the spaces below, and these gaps should be sealed as part of your overall insulation strategy. A comprehensive insulation program is beneficial because it helps to prevent ice dams and reduces energy costs. However, insulation is not enough to stop all ice dams, and you should combine it with better ventilation.
Eliminating Attic Heat Sources to Prevent Ice Dams
You may also have heat sources in your attic you are not aware of. This is most common when attic lights reach the floor. These lights can emit a lot of heat into the attic, which can cause the air to get hotter than the freezing point. This is true in areas with poor ventilation. These old light fixtures can radiate a lot of heat into the attic, so it is worth replacing them with modern recessed lighting that can be fully insulated.
Uninsulated HVAC ductwork and vents from clothes dryers are other possible heat sources. Incorrectly vented kitchen exhaust fans or bathroom exhaust fans could also be heat sources. To reduce heat transfer to the attic, fiberglass insulation can be used for all heat sources.
Electric Heat Cable to Prevent Ice Dams
The best methods to prevent ice dams are improving ventilation and reducing heat sources from the inside of the roof surface. If these are not feasible, you can install an electric heat cable along the gutters and the roofline. Heat cable can be looped in a zig-zag fashion along the roof’s edge to prevent melting water from freezing at the eaves. The meltwater is not frozen but flows to the ground. Although it is not very attractive on a roof, heat cable can prevent ice dams if installed correctly. However, mixing water with electricity can pose risks. make sure you follow all instructions.
Fighting Ice Dams
While prevention is best done in the spring, summer, or fall, there are many options to combat them during the colder months.
Keep gutters clean.
Eliminate all fall leaves and get rid of them before the snow arrives. Check that your downspouts work correctly. If your gutters are blocked, melting snow will not have a place to go.
After heavy snowfalls, use a roof rake:
Because of the insulation properties of snow, ice dams can quickly form after heavy snowfall. To prevent ice dams, use a long-handled roof rake to remove snow from the roof edges 4 feet or less. This is the safest way to remove snow from a roof. Never climb onto a roof in winter to remove snow. To avoid damaging the shingles, use light pressure.
Use calcium chloride or an ice-melt:
Calcium chloride or another similar product can be applied to an ice dam.
Get off the ice:
While climbing on the roof is not recommended, you might be able to remove some of the ice yourself if you have an extension ladder that can reach the eaves. You don’t usually need to remove the whole ice dam. It may suffice to open a channel to allow more meltwater to flow off the roof.
This will need to be done several times. You will need to do this several times. You will need a chisel or ice pick for this job. However, don’t try it if you cannot reach the top of the ice dam.
Get a professional.
If you find that ice dams are too large for you to manage, it is time to get professional help. Professionals’ roofers Fuquay Varina and Raleigh are insured and will remove your ice dam using special equipment such as a high temperature/low-pressure steamer to melt the ice and snow from your roof.
The cost of this service can run to several hundred dollars. Hire a contractor who uses a high-pressure power washer with an enclosed steam box. This can cause damage to shingles.