Top Ways to Prevent Ice Dams
As cold temperatures set in and fall progresses, it is time to start thinking about preparing for winter storms. Snow and ice have already come to some parts of the U.S and will soon be everywhere. With this arrival of below freezing temperatures and winter storms comes the risk of ice dams on homes and buildings. Preventing ice dams should be a top concern during the winter as these can be responsible for serious water damage to the roof and walls of structures. Preventing ice dams is a multi-faceted endeavor that requires inspecting the insulation and ventilation in your home, as well as the condition of your roof and gutters. Be sure to carefully inspect each one of these components to determine what needs improvement before the snow falls. Here are some helpful tips to prevent ice dams entirely.
Clean Out Rain Gutters
The first thing to do is clean out the rain gutters of leaves and debris. This should be done thoroughly a couple times a year to ensure that water flows freely through the gutters and to prevent buildup of detritus in the gutters. In the fall, leaves and other matter clog gutters and prevent water from flowing freely. When temperatures drop, this material can freeze and contribute to the formation of ice dams. Now is the time to completely clean out your rain gutters and ensure that they are in good condition for winter. Make sure obstructions are removed and that downspouts point away from the foundation to keep runoff away from the home.
Inspect Attic Insulation & Ventilation
Check the insulation in the attic to ensure that heat is retained in the living quarters of the home and does not escape through the attic. Too much heat buildup in the attic can melt snow and ice on the roof, create runoff into the gutters, re-freeze, and lead to ice dams. Ensure that the insulation is a proper grade and that it sufficiently fills the attic space. Also, make sure that the attic is properly ventilated to keep cold air circulating.
These two measures combined should help prevent runoff from the roof from freezing in the gutters and forming ice dams. As snow and ice melt, it is most important that the water runs freely through the gutters and to the ground. Ice dams become a problem when this process is impeded from attic heat buildup and clogged gutters.
Inspect the Roof
Last but most important is to inspect the roof structure and shingles to ensure that they are in good condition to withstand winter storms and heavy ice and snow. Most shingles need to be replaced every 5-6 years, depending on factors like climate, quality of the shingles, and overall wear. Have a look at the shingles and note if they are peeling, folding, or loose. If so, consider having the shingles replaced.
Also, don’t overlook the roof structure itself. Get in the attic and look for degradation in the wood or weaknesses that could be signs of structural problems. If you notice any sagging or horizontal cracks, contact a professional roofing company for a complete inspection and possible replacement. Doing this before the arrival of snow and ice is important for comfort and safety throughout the winter.