Stop Ice Dams – Start this Fall

stop ice dams

Who wants a redo of last winter?  Can’t see many hands being raised given it was rough and people wound up with home problems they never dealt with before, like ice dams.  You can, however, take steps to stop ice dams from forming as severely just in case we have another harsh winter.  The key is not to wait to stop ice dams when the problem starts, but use the temperate weather of the fall to eliminate as much of the problem as you can now.

Stop Ice Dams with These Easy, Low Cost Fixes

Ice dams are formed when hot air escapes the living space of your home, gets into your attic which winds up melting the lowest layer of snow on your roof.  This melted snow flows down to the roof eave, the part of the roof that hangs over the exterior home wall, and freezes solid on the cold unheated roof edge.  This process continues until a large dam of ice prevents future water from reaching you gutters.  At that point, water can work back underneath your roof shingles and can cause all kinds of damage associated with water getting through the exterior of your home.  The key is to stop ice dams from forming in the first place.  Here are a few cost effective ways to stop ice dams from forming:

Gutter Guard Icicles, stop ice dams

Stop ice dams and Icicles from forming with better ventilation and insulation.

1.  Insulation – Heat can escape into the attic from the interior of your home through a number of avenues.  Lighting fixtures in your ceilings, poorly laid or insufficient insulation allow excess heat to enter your attic, but it’s the latter two that you need to inspect for and address, since you have to keep insulation away from the fixtures.  R-Values have increased over the years so you might stop ice dams by simply rolling extra insulation over what you have installed now. Pay particular attention to the edges of your attic and any space between rafters that might have been missed or removed in the past.

2.  Circulation – Another cause of excess heat in the attic is poor circulation.  Depending on the home, some attics may have a vent/fan installed in the wall of the attic to maintain a proper internal temperature in relation to the external temperature.  If you home is lacking proper circulation, you can speak with a local builder about installing baffles.  A baffle is a channel run from your attic through the insulation to the soffit on your roof eave.  This allows the cold air from outside to enter the attic and maintain a proper temperature.  This can also help to stop ice dams from building up.

3.  Proper Exhaust – Many appliances and rooms in your home produce heat. The kitchen, laundry room, and bathrooms all produce excess heat, and if the exhaust from these areas aren’t properly insulated and caulked, heat can escape into the attic.  Maintaining the ducts from these areas is crucial in the fight to stop ice dams.

4.  Roof Raking – One simple solution is to remove the snow from the roof yourself.  Many hardware stores carry snow rakes, a telescoping tool to manually remove the snow from the roof before ice dams form.  Keep in mind that these rakes should never be used while on a ladder, but are effective at freeing your roof of snow.  Using a rake to remove snow right after a storm will stop ice dams before they every have a chance to form and keep you from trying to rake heavy, crusty snow which makes the job much harder to do.