How to Prevent and Protect Your Roof From Ice Dams?

The Pacific Northwest Is Particularly Known For Its Lush Vegetation And Its Regular Changing Seasons.

These beautiful cycles, while a luxury, can come at a cost-particularly to your roofing! During the wet, cold months of winter your roof is prone to damage, particularly damage caused by ice dams.

Iceicle Buildup

In most homes, heat from the home will make its way up through the ceilings and collect in the attic heating the ceiling and underside of your roofing. Although the outdoor temperature can be as cold as sub-freezing, the snow will melt over the warmed section of roof, heated by your attic. When the meltwater runs down the roof, it hits the cold edge not warmed by the attic. There it refreezes as sheets of ice at the roofline and expands under your shingles. Once you’re here, you have a full on ice dam.

What causes ice dams

What Causes Ice Dams?

Many homeowners assume that ice dams are caused by an issue with their roofing, but as we previously mentioned, they’re actually caused by warm air escaping through your attic and melting the ice and snow.

How, you might ask, does heat escape from your house through your attic to melt the winter elements on the outside? Most likely, you already have some attic insulation in your house. Over time, your insulation can break down causing warm indoor air and cool outdoor air to pass though. As the heat escapes through the attic and roof, the snow on your roof is rapidly melting only to refreeze repeatedly, causing an ice build up.

The worst part?

Ice dams can drip water into your home through the attic, slowly and stealthy this moisture can build up between your drywall, within your insulation, and in unseen parts of your house. So preventing ice dams in the first place is your best chance to avoid them altogether. If you have questions about insulation or attic and crawl space services, call us at 877-926-9966 or request a free consultation online »

Why are Ice Dams Bad?

We’ve already covered that ice dams can cause leaks in your roofing that can cause (and will, if ignored) drainage into your insulation, drywall, and any other pocket it finds. When this happens you’re looking at a less than ideal situation. Peeling paint, misshaped floors, stained and warped ceilings, soggy attic insulation, we could go on but we’ll just to name a few.  Ice dams can also tear off gutters, loosen and lift shingles, and really do damage to your roofing. 

How to Get Rid of Ice Dams Fast

If you’re wondering how to fix an ice dam on your roof, here’s how you can prevent them altogether or remove them if they’ve already formed. In a pinch this is what we would recommend. 

Blow in Cold Air

Hacking away at ice dams with a hammer, chisel, or shovel is bad for your roofing—and can be extremely dangerous for you. Throwing salt on can do more harm than good regarding your roofing material. Your best option would be to cool down the air escaping from your attic or crawlspace.

Take a box fan into the attic and aim it at the underside of the roof where water is actively leaking in. This targeted dose of cold air will cool the hot air allowing the melting snow and ice to refreeze stopping a leak. This is only a temporary fix and should be followed up with a more permanent solution. Call us today at 877-926-9966 or schedule your appointment online to find the best solution.

Rake It

Pull off snow with a long-handled aluminum roof rake while you stand safely on the ground. A rake with wheels will instantly change the exterior temperature of your roof without damaging shingles and works great for snow removal. This can be effective but also dangerous. Don’t want to risk it? Call 877-926-9966 or email one of our professionals today»

Next up, a list of long-term fixes that will help you get rid of your ice dams for good.

Permanent fixes for ice dams

Permanent Fixes for Ice Dams 

The best solution is a preventative solution! With knowledge, and little time, and some scheduled services with Guardian booked, preventing ice dams for good is simple. Just keep the entire roof the same temperature as the eaves. You do that by increasing ventilation, adding insulation, and sealing off every possible air leak that might warm the underside of the roof. Call us at 877-926-9966 or book a consultation online with us to make sure your roof is protected this season!

By taking care of common trouble spots, listed here in order of priority, you should enjoy dam-free winters and use less energy.

  1. Ventilate Eaves And Ridge:
    A ridge vent paired with continuous soffit vents circulates cold air under the entire roof. Our trained professionals know what to look for to determine the size of these openings depending on square footage.

  2. Cap your Hatch: 
    An unsealed attic hatch or whole-house fan is a massive opening for heat to escape. We recommend covering them with weatherstripped caps made from foil-faced foam board held together with aluminum tape. 

  3. Exhaust to the Outside: 
    Make sure that the ducts connected to the kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents all lead outdoors. These should release the warm air out through the walls or roof.

  4. Add Insulation: 
    More insulation on the attic floor keeps the heat and cool air where they belong.. To find how much insulation your attic needs, call 877-926-9966 or email us »

  5. Install Sealed Can Lights: 
    Old-style recessed lights give off great plumes of heat and can be a fire hazard since they are unable to be insulated. We recommend reducing the heat flow through your ceiling by installing sealed can lights. 

  6. Caulk Penetrations: 
    Look for gaps in your ducting or black spots in your insulation that could be letting the hot air escape into your walls and ceilings. We recommend sealing all of your ducting and around any loose electrical wiring to make sure your hot air is directed outside your home.

Ice Dams can be an incredible threat to your roof during our cold Pacific Northwest Winters. With a little bit of knowledge and some help from Guardian, you can prevent or tackle problematic Ice Dams on your roof. 

Call 877-926-9966 or email us today to set up your next attic or crawlspace insulation services or for any roofing repairs.