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Preventing Ice Dams this Winter 

November 6, 2019

Icicles hanging from your home during the winter months may look beautiful, but they signal a huge problem for homeowners. These gracefully hanging icicles are really ice dams that could damage your home, in particular, your roof. Preventing them from forming could save you from this serious, and potentially costly problem. 

Ice dams are nothing new in the northeast, but too many homeowners don’t take precautions to stop them from forming. What starts out as a small ice formation can quickly turn into a pool of melted water that refreezes and forms an ice dam. Here are some things you should know about how you can help prevent the formation of these dams in order to save yourself a headache and a large bill later. 

What is an Ice Dam? 

An ice dam is a wall of ice and snow that has accumulated at the edge of a roof. This dam prevents melting snow and ice from draining off the roof and down waterspouts. Water that ends up backing up behind the dam can refreeze or, worse yet, seep into a home’s roof, into walls, and ceilings causing an expensive mess. 

What Causes an Ice Dam? 

Ice dams usually form after a snowfall when warm air in the attic causes the roof to warm and the snow to melt. Water running down the roof then refreezes when it reaches the colder roof edge, forming a mound of ice. The ice traps meltwater, which can seep under shingles and drip through the roof into your house, causing wet and stained ceilings and walls, and peeling paint and rot.

Preventing Ice Dams 

There are several steps that homeowners can take to prevent costly and messy leaks from ice dams. One of the first things homeowners can do is clear the roof of snow, especially after heavy snow, like we get several times a year here in New England. This eliminates one of the ingredients necessary for the formation of an ice dam. A long “roof rake” and push broom can be used to remove snow but may damage the roofing materials so be careful when using.

A long-term solution for homeowners with recurring ice dams is to evaluate the amount and type of insulation in your attic or crawl spaces. You may need to add a layer or consider blown-in insulation that can hold close to the joists. Some homes may find it necessary to add soffits, so consult a professional when examining the need for insulation and airflow in your attic. 

For emergencies, where water is currently flowing into a home, try to make a channel through the ice dam to allow the water to run out. While this is only a temporary fix, a garden hose with tap water should do the trick. 

Don’t get fooled by the beauty of the icicles on your home. If you have water damage, you will need to act fast to stop the growth of mold or mildew. By involving Pro-Care early, we can help minimize your losses. Do you follow us on social media? We often post about ways to keep your home safe throughout the year. Follow us on Facebook

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