The type of weather we’ve been experiencing so far in 2018 is great for growing ice dams and the Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting above average snow this winter. A snowy rooftop can create numerous challenges, including ice dams.
These form when heat escaping from the house causes snow and ice to melt. The water then runs down the roof and freezes again above the eaves that overhang the house. The area of ice expands back up the roof where it again encounters the warm air from the house and melts. The water can be forced under the shingles by the ice below. This can lead to interior leaks and water damage to your home.
There are several steps you can take to prevent this from happening. First, make sure that your attic is properly insulated and vented. The insulation will help keep warm air in your living space where it belongs, reducing the likelihood of melting snow and ice on your roof. Having your attic properly vented allows hot air to escape, while circulating cold air from outside through baffles attached to the roof’s interior, keeping it cold.
You can protect your roof from the outside as well, through the use of ice slides, an ice and water shield, and/or heating cable along the eaves. An ice slide is a metal piece that gets installed on the bottom few feet of a shingle roof to prevent snow and ice from sticking to your roof above the eaves. Ice-and-water shield is rubber that goes underneath the shingles for the first several feet of roof above the eaves, so if water does get through the shingles it will be prevented from going through the roof. Finally, heating cable is exactly what it sounds like- cable that is installed on the shingles for the first few feet of your roof and heated to melt snow and ice (similar to the lines on the back windshield of your car). Clearing your roof after a big snowfall (or hiring a roofing professional to do it) can ensure that you don’t build up excess snow on the roof. Finally, if you do see that ice dams have formed on your roof, consult a roofing professional about getting them removed.
If you should notice staining on your walls or ceilings, our advice may have come too late. At that point, it’s best to contact your homeowners insurance provider and a roofing professional to mitigate the damage before mold or mildew can form in the walls or ceilings. And visualize an early spring!