Look Out for Ice Dams on the Roof of Your House

Look Out for Ice Dams on the Roof of Your HouseIce dams way up on your roof actually begin inside the attic. An ice dam is a frozen mound that obstructs the gutters after snowfall. It can trigger leaks that degrade the integrity of the roof structure as well as damaging the interior of your home. The starting point in the sequence of events leading to ice dams is uneven heating of the roof from below.

Warm household air seeps into the attic through cracks and gaps in ceilings and walls. Warmth also transfers through the ceiling by radiation and conduction. Infiltrating heat naturally rises in the cold attic and accumulates at the underside of the upper portion of the roof, making that zone warmer than the lower area of roof, which typically remains below freezing. While snow melts more rapidly from the warmed upper section, runoff flowing down to the frigid lower roof quickly re-freezes, gradually forming a mound of ice that dams the flow of water and prevents runoff from draining into the gutters.

Leaks develop as standing water seeps through the shingles, penetrates joints between roof sheathing and enters the attic. Wooden structural components deteriorate and attic insulation becomes saturated and no longer inhibits heat transfer. Toxic mold growth in the attic is often triggered, too. Ultimately, water penetrates the ceiling and drips down into rooms below, damaging household possessions.

Prevent ice dams by sealing hot air out of your attic and keeping roof temperatures uniform.

  • Look for cracks and gaps in the ceiling and fill them with caulking.
  • Also fill any gaps around vent pipes passing through the ceiling as well as recessed light fixtures.
  • Make sure pull-down attic stairs in the ceiling close tightly and weatherstripping is viable.
  • To reduce heat transfer into the attic by radiation and conduction, verify that attic insulation meets current Department of Energy standards for depth and type.
  • Proper attic ventilation also helps equalize roof temperatures so make sure attic vents are open and unobstructed.

Your source of trusted advice since 1922, the professionals at Paitson Bros. have more suggestions about preventing damaging ice dams this winter.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Terre Haute, Indiana about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about ice dams and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 812-645-6859.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “qimono/Pixabay”

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    Jeff Paitson Jeff Paitson is a third generation business owner who continues to run the business with the same values that have been passed down from previous generations since 1922.

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