If you haven't had an ice dam on your roof, consider yourself lucky. These home wreckers can cause all kinds of damage to your roof, attic, ceilings and walls. They are caused when melting snow pools up behind a wall of ice at the edge of the roof. This water backs up under shingling and leaks into the attic area and along the inside of the exterior walls of the home. In addition, the water that comes into contact with the ice dam starts to freeze, making the dam even bigger.
The initial ice dam forms when snow that has melted on the upper part of your roof hits the cold eaves at the edge of the roof and refreezes. This happens because the area above the roof edge is warmer than freezing, while at the edge it's below freezing. The more snow there is on the roof and the more the temperature drops below freezing, the more likely an ice dam will form.
Water damage from ice dams is easy to spot. It shows up as water spots on the ceiling, sagging gutters filled with ice, heaving roof shingles, peeling paint, and damaged plaster or drywall. The real problem, though, is found in damaged insulation. Once the insulation in your attic gets wet, it loses its insulating qualities. This can accelerate the melt/freeze cycle and make the ice dam, and associated damage, much worse.
To prevent ice dams from occurring, make sure your attic is adequately insulated. An R-value of 38 or higher is suggested to keep the attic temperature low in the winter. In addition, make sure that your attic is properly ventilated and that ridge vents, soffits and roof vents are all clear to promote continual air exchange. You will also need to seal any air leaks that are letting warm air enter the attic from the main home. These can be found around wires and plumbing lines, attic hatches and recessed ceiling lights.
For more expert advice on preventing ice dams, contact us at Hartman Brothers Heating & Air Conditioning. We have been serving the Fort Wayne area since 1963.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in New Haven, Indiana and surrounding Fort Wayne area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about ice dams and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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