Winter season is upon us and with that comes heavy snowstorms, low temperatures and the dreaded ice dams. If you are a homeowner who worries about unsightly ice dams and icicles hanging down from your eaves, then this post is for you.
Why Are Ice Dams Dangerous?
The major issue with ice dams on a roof is that they trap the melting water and cause it to rise underneath your roof materials (shingles, shakes, metal). Eventually this water will seep through the boards and walls and get inside of your home.
What Causes Ice Dams?
Ice dams can be understood in 3 simple steps. First heat collects in the attic and warms the roof, except at the eaves. Next, snow melts on the warm roof and freezes on the cold eaves or. Finally, ice accumulates along the eaves, forming a damn. Meltwater from the warm roof backs up behind it and flows under the roof into the house.
Ice Dam Prevention
The first step in preventing ice dams is to have properly installed under layments. Your roof should have al least 2 feet of high temp ice and water shield installed on all eaves, up any valleys, and over any non-heated areas of your home (such as a 3 seasons room, or porch roof).
The next step is to minimize the amount of heat that escapes through your attic. This can be done by properly insulating your home, especially the attic floor. Many older homes are not properly insulated so by making small adjustments you can make a huge difference. It is recommended by Energy Star that your attic insulation is equivalent to a R-49 value. You can also seal any air leaks that lead into the attic space.
Finally, you must maintain your home. It is important to not let snow pile on your roof, especially in the valleys. Depending on the pitch of your roof, you can either broom/shovel the snow off or get a snow rake to knock snow off from the ground
The Best Way To Prevent Ice Dams?
The best way to prevent ice dams is to install a metal roof. Metal roofs shed snow and ice off the roof quickly before it has the chance to form an ice damn. If properly installed and maintained, you can eliminate ice dam formations from your roof. You still need to have adequate levels of insulation installed to prevent heat loss from your home. Keep in mind that a metal roof will not cause a loss of heat in the winter, but an improperly attic space will.