Preventing ice dams in winter is important for us here in Chicago. There are a few things you need to make sure you do so that your roof does not get damaged. Here we are going to run over some of the things you need to check so that it doesn’t happen to you.
How Ice Dams Are Formed
Ice dams happen when the roof has different temperatures under the roof. Generally, the top parts of the roof tend to get warmer than the edges. Snow on top of the roof starts to melt and then flows down to the edges. Because the edges are colder normally, the water tends to refreeze as the temperature drops. Little by little the water gets under the ice and starts to run under the shingles and into the inside of the roof.
When water gets inside the roof it can and will cause a lot of expensive damage. Black mold can form inside the insulation and walls, but it can also damage plaster and drywall. The cost to repair this type of damage can be expansive.
Temperatures can vary throughout the roof for various reasons. One of the main ones is because of improper circulation of the air. There are vents in the soffits and some houses also have ridge vents. It is more likely that the soffit vents can become blocked. These vents should be checked regularly to ensure that the temperatures remain equal throughout the attic.
Many houses have chimneys and they are usually the culprit of the warm air inside the house to leak into the attic. Have the chimney inspected for leaks. You can also insulate the chimney with non-flammable insulation. Leaks can also occur in other places in the roof. If you can see light seeping up from the ceiling, you can have an air leak there.
There could be many different types of exhausts in any given house. Lots of kitchens have exhausts. Normally there could be one (or two) for the oven and stove, possibly for the microwave also. Bathrooms can have exhausts that extend through the roof to the outside also.
Ways to Prevent Ice Dams
One of the ways is one of the most logical, remove the snow from the roof. You must exercise caution when doing this. Being on top of the roof carries its own risks (snow and ice can be very slippery). There are “roof rakes” and you can also use a push broom, but be careful not to damage the roofing materials. You also need to watch out for falling snow.
Roof heaters placed near the soffits and also help out. Pay attention to the manufactures instructions when using these. Improper installation could cause more damage than prevent it.