Winter is here and it is in full force all over the country. Not only is there snow on the ground, but the temperatures have dropped to FRIGID. The beautiful sun has been out though and some of that winter snow has melted off of the sidewalks and roof tops.
As any seasoned homeowner could probably tell you, the combination of freezing temperatures and melting sun can cause big problems for your house in the form of ice dams. The problem is the damage from ice dams can stick around longer than the winter months if you’re not careful. The best plan of action when it comes to these annoying icicles is PREVENTION.
Use my winter checklist to help prevent things like ice dams
WHAT are ice dams?
Once the ice has formed into an ice dam, the new snow that is constantly melting backs up behind the ice dam. It then freezes or gets pushed underneath your shingles. And that, homeowners, is when you have a VERY big problem on your hands.
WHY you don’t want ice dams
Mold is it’s own organism. It grows very easily and only needs just a little bit of moisture to get started. Once the mold has started once something such as drywall or insulation, it continues to spread on that porous surface. Many materials that are in homes are basically food for mold. What’s more concerning is that it can be very difficult to tell if you do in fact have mold growing beneath the surface of your walls.
Toxic mold growing in your home can cause a plethora of health problems that we cover in our Toxic Mold Mini Course. Essentially anything from respiratory irritation to mental health issues is fair game when it comes to mold and mold growing in your house. If you have children, elderly or those with compromised immune systems, you need to be especially careful.
WHERE ice dams accumulate
You may think that as long as you have gutters you’ll be fine. This just isn’t the case. In a perfect world, water would flow down the gutter and safely through the downspout away from your home. But what happens is the ice dam usually forms BEFORE it reaches the gutter. If your gutters are clogged, however, it can accentuate the problem.
WHEN to watch for ice dams
Most people think you have to have ice and snow on your roof to be at risk for ice dams, but this is a common misconception. The heat from your attic or roof can create moisture with the outside air, creating enough water to start an ice dam around the edges. The next time it snows you’ll be in for a real problem.
Watching for an ice dam outside is your best course of action. But you’ll also want to watch INSIDE for any signs of water damage.
Knowing what’s going on outside your home and being able to spot a change will really help you keep moisture out. Get familiar with your house and get into the habit of visually checking the roof, gutters, ceilings and walls for damage or potential damage on a regular basis.
Already Have Water Damage?
HOW to prevent and safely remove ice dams
(1) Prevention: The best way to truly prevent or minimize ice dams from occurring this winter is to have a properly insulated attic. There are many ways to insulate an attic, and it really depends on the type of home you have. First you will want to make sure the attic floor is insulated. Second, you’ll want to make sure the insulation along the ceiling of the attic near the rafters. Third, you will want to take extra precautions to insulate the outer perimeter of the floor in the attic as that is where the ice usually forms.
The goal with prevention and insulating the attic is to make sure that the top of your roof is not warm.
With a cold rooftop, you can minimize any snow and ice melting. By insulating your attic, you can reduce the amount of warm air that is lost through your roof.
There are other ways to prevent ice dams, but they are more or less band-aids, rather than addressing the true problem of a cold roof.
(2) Removal: There are many options for ice dam removal. The two main ways to get rid of a current ice dam is by either chipping away at it with some soft of ice tool or heating it up so it melts.
There are many tools around to help you safely get rid of the problem. But as we always know, prevention is the real key.