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Ice Dams: Problems That Arise With Your Roof From Ice Build-Up

by Tara Pena

When the weather gets cold, it's important to take a good look at your gutters to see if there is ice building up. You can learn a lot about your home by checking just above the gutters when it's freezing out. Ice build-up directly above or in your gutters can cause significant damage to your roof, and this problem should be assessed immediately. While some ice build-up is normal in cold weather climates, this problem allows water to seep into your home where it causes all kinds of problems.

Why Ice Dams Form

Ice dams form when there is snow on the roof, and the temperature gets warm enough for some of that snow to melt. The weather has to be cold enough for ice to form at the lower portion of your roof, or at least 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The ice forms right around the gutter area of your roof, and as the snow slowly melts, the ice damn gets larger. The ice will block water from draining into the gutters, and the water will sit there on your roof until it begins to seep into the home. Ice dam formation requires a very specific set of circumstances, but they form often enough to be a problem for many homeowners.

How to Handle Ice Dams

You can see ice building up along the edges of your roof in the form of icicles. While small, short icicles are no cause for alarm, long, thick icicles should be handled immediately. The larger the formation of icicles, the more heat you are losing from your home through your roof. Thick icicles are a sign that your home is not well insulated, and your home is going to have problems with moisture along the eaves. Start by breaking off the ice, allowing any water to flow down to the ground. The ice is acting as a physical dam, and you can cut channels in the ice to allow water to flow freely.

Remove any snow that is on your roof with a roof rake. This takes away the source of water for any ice dams that are building up. If there's no snow on your roof, it can't melt and create a water hazard.

To further handle ice dams, it's important to make sure that your home is well insulated. Snow will melt on your roof when it comes in contact with the heat from the inside of your home. Call in a professional to assess your insulation if you have ice dam problems. To learn more, speak with a business like Darnell Construction.