November 6, 2015

Preventing Ice Dams

Winter is just around the corner and now is the time to take the steps to prevent ice dams from damaging your home. Ice dams are formed when melting snow and ice refreeze above the edge of a roof. Subsequent water from melting snow and ice backs up under the shingles. This causes leaks and water damage to the interior of your home.

The key to avoiding ice dams is to ensure proper ventilation, drainage, and insulation. Here are some basic steps that you can take:

  • Make sure gutters are clear of leaves and other debris.
  • Your roof and attic should be inspected for proper ventilation and insulation.
  • Check and seal places where warm air could leak from your house to the attic. Light fixtures, vent pipes, exhaust ducts, chimneys, and attic hatches are often locations allowing warm air to escape.
  • If you have soffit vents in your eaves, make sure they are not blocked. Insulation surrounding them should be secure so that air can flow easily.

Additional Steps

  • Keep snow from accumulating on the lower three to six feet of your roof. Use specially made roof rakes to safely remove the snow.
  • Install snow and ice slides to prevent ice and snow from adhering to the lower section of the roof.
  • Install a rubberized ice and water shield beneath the roof shingles for the first three to six feet up from the roof’s edge.
  • Install a special heating cable along the roof’s edge to melt the ice.

Ice Dam Removal

  • Do not use shovels, garden rakes, axes, etc. to remove or break up ice dams. If you can safely reach the roof, fill a nylon stocking with calcium chloride ice melt. Place it vertically across the ice dam so that it melts a channel through the dam. Make sure to use calcium chloride and not rock salt. Rock salt will damage your roof.
  • Consult a roofing professional.

Use these tips to help protect your home this winter.

In addition to ice and snow damage, winter weather can cause damage related to flooding. Find out whether you need flood insurance to safeguard your property.

Keep Reading: 5 Cool Tips for Heating Your Home Safely

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