Ice Dams Can Damage Roofs, But How?

by | Aug 2, 2022 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

One of the most common questions we get here at roof repair is: how do ice dams damage roofs? It’s a good question and one that we’re happy to answer. Ice dams occur when the snow melts on your roof and then re-freezes at the edge of your roof line. This can cause a dam to form, which can then back up the water underneath your shingles and into your home.

This can cause serious damage to your roof, walls, ceilings, and even your foundation. While ice dams are more common in cold weather climates, they can happen anywhere there is snow and ice on your roof. If you think you may have an ice dam, it’s important to have it assessed by a top rated roofers in Enterprise as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your home. Thanks for reading!

How Ice Dams Form

Ice dams are caused by accumulated snow and uneven roof temperatures. During winter, when the upper area of a roof is warmer than the lower edge, nearest the eave or overhang, snow begins to melt and run down the roof slope. Once it reaches the colder roof edge, it refreezes, creating a block of ice called an ice dam. An ice dam prevents snowmelt from draining, causing water to pool on the roof which can eventually back up under your shingles or cause damage to your roofing system and home’s interior.

Uneven roof heating can be caused by inadequate attic ventilation or insulation. The heat from the living space below escapes through the ceiling into the attic, warming the roof surface and melting snow in patches, even if outdoor conditions keep the rest of it below freezing. Proper attic ventilation and insulation will help keep your roof uniformly cool, helping to prevent ice dams.

How Ice Dams Affect a Roof

Once an ice dam has formed, it can cause significant damage to your home if not removed. As water pools at the roof’s lower edge, it can begin to back up under the shingles. Once water is under the shingles, it can soak into the sheathing and roof deck.

If an ice dam breaks free and falls off the roof, it can damage both the gutter system and the shingles at the edge of the roof as well as any items, landscaping, or people around the area under it. Even if it doesn’t come loose, the weight of an ice dam can cause gutters and downspouts to bend or warp.

After soaking into the roof deck, water can continue its journey into the attic insulation. Wet insulation doesn’t perform as well as dry, providing water to get into the drywall in the living area. If that happens, the leak may finally become noticeable to the homeowner. But if unknown or left untreated, the leak can cause warped drywall, uneven floors, and rotten wood.

If the damp area is not dried out properly, it can also lead to the right conditions for mildew or mold to grow in the attic or even the living area. Mold and mildew can cause respiratory issues for those with allergies or sensitivities. If ice dams have caused mold or mildew to creep into your home, you should have a professional address it during the repair process.

Preventing Ice Dams

Ice dams can be prevented with winter maintenance, snow removal, proper attic ventilation, and insulation.

Before winter weather arrives, have your roof properly inspected by a professional roofing contractor. They can tell you what maintenance needs to be completed and inspect your attic for proper installation and ventilation. They can also provide specific recommendations to help prevent your home’s ice dam damage.

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