Beware of the Ice Dam!

Have you ever seen long icicles hanging off the edge of your house? They may look pretty outside, but inside it may be a sign that water is seriously damaging your walls and leading to toxic mold.

Icicles are signals of ice dams, which are caused by heavy snowfall (8” or more) followed by extremely low temperatures.

After a snowfall, warm air in the attic heats the roof, melting the snow and sending water down into the gutter. As the water flows away from the roof, it freezes as it hits the cooler portions of the roof near the gutters. Even gutters that began the season clear will rapidly freeze over.

As layer after layer of melted water refreezes, the ice dam grows, and warmer water is trapped in a pool above the dam. The water backs up under the shingles, running down through your attic and into your house. This can cause discoloration on your ceiling and walls or even the growth of toxic mold and mildew.

If your home is poorly insulated, the roof will heat faster, causing bigger ice dams and more problems inside and outside your home. And, of course, the problems get worse with more snow and colder temperatures.

The way to prevent interior damages caused by ice dams is to properly design a roof to maximize attic ventilation with the outside air. Another simple preventative measure is to remove the snow from the lowest portions (16 feet) of your roof to prevent the ice damns from forming. Once they have formed, the only relief is to remove the ice and snow from the roof or wait for a period of warm weather. Removing the ice can cause damage so it is best to remove the snow as soon as it builds up.