Ice Dam Causes and Prevention

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof, preventing the drain of melting snow. The water may back up behind the dam, causing damage to interior walls, ceilings and other areas.

Ice dams form when melted snow refreezes at the roof edges. We have all seen the icicles form along roof eaves. Most people don’t stop and think why the icicles have formed until their homes have been damaged by the problems they cause. There are three components needed to form ice dams: 1) there must be snow on the roof and 2) higher portions of the roof’s surface must be above 32 degrees F while 3) the lower roof’s surfaces must be below 32 degrees F. The snow on the upper portion of the roof (above 32 degrees) will melt. As the water runs down the roof it reaches the lower portion of the roof (which is below 32 degrees) and freezes. An ice dam is created!

One step you can take to help prevent ice dams from forming is to make sure you have proper insulation between your attic floor and the living area of the house. The insulation should be even and continuous.

Ventilation is also very important. A soffit-to-ridge ventilation system is the most effective system to cool roof sheathing. An even temperature along the entire roof will prevent the thaw and refreeze cycle, thus preventing ice dams.

Finally, a properly installed roofing system including a waterproofing membrane at least 3’ up from the eave will limit the amount of water that can penetrate the roof.

Moisture from ice dams can lead to the growth of mold. To prevent mold it is important to dry the wet areas immediately and completely.

In most cases Pro-Care can remove the ice dams to prevent further interior water damage. We will also dry your home or business to prevent further water damage and mold growth.

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