Ice Damming: What it is and How to Fight It

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Winter is coming, and with it comes low temperatures, wind, rain, ice and snow. While some of these can be great for building snowmen and playing ice hockey, none of these are really good for your roof. During winter, ice damming commonly causes water damage to homes. Regardless of how clean or dirty your gutters, you’re at risk. Ice damming doesn’t occur due to poor gutter maintenance.

Understanding ice damming

The temperature differential between the inside and outside of the home alongside ventilation and insulation issues trigger melting. Water then runs down to the edge of the roof and refreezes. This refrozen ice and snow create a blockage that traps more water behind it. That water can then back up underneath shingles, penetrating the roof’s membrane to cause interior damage. Less severe side effects of ice damming include mold and peeling paint, while more serious complications can lead to a badly damaged or ruined roof and attic. Replacing a roof and repairing interior damage can translate into expenses that can rise well over $10,000. Prepping your home to cope with ice damming is much more affordable.

Fighting the problem of ice damming

If you have an ice dam situation, the quickest solution is to remove the affected gutters. Removing the gutters will alleviate the damming effect and prevent further roof damage.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are steps you can take to prevent ice damming before it begins.

  1. Improve the insulation in your home.
    By sealing air leaks and improving the insulation in your walls and attic, you are going to reduce your temperature differential, therefore reducing the amount of melting and refreezing that will occur on the surface of your roof. A cold roof is a happy roof in this case.
  2. Make sure the space between the insulation and roof sheathing is ventilated, allowing any conducted heat to be carried away.
  3. Apply an ice and water barrier beneath your shingles.
    These adhesive, water-repellent materials may be a costly investment initially, but they’re a lot cheaper than a new roof, and they’ll extend the life of your current roof by giving it added protection from the elements.

Because winter can bring with it a host of issues, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to get your home ready for winter. One step in the right direction is to get your gutters cleaned. If you’re concerned about the readiness of your home and your gutters, give the professionals at Ned Stevens a call.


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