Winter Roofing Problem

What You Should Know About Ice Dams

Winter is the season when some businesses and other commercial establishments start getting more clients and customers. Storeowners start preparing for the so-called “Christmas rush” when people hurry to buy gifts. Hotels, meanwhile, expect a large number of guests who will come to spend their vacation away from home. And for Madison roofing contractors, this is the time when homeowners contact them to request their professional services.

The winter season brings various types of problems that can damage the roof, and one of the major concerns is the formation of ice dams. This article summarizes everything you need to know about them. Read on to learn how they form and how they can be prevented.

What Is an Ice Dam and How Does It Form?

An ice dam is a common roofing problem during the winter that forms around the eaves of the house. As its name suggests, it is a dam-like structure made of ice and causes clogs on the gutter, which prevents melted snow from draining properly. This problem typically arises from a poor ventilation system, particularly in the attic. Here is how an ice dam forms:

  1. A huge amount of snow falls and accumulates on the roof.
  2. Warm air coming from inside the house slightly heats the roof and gradually melts the snow.
  3. The meltwater slowly slides down onto the eaves and gutter.
  4. The meltwater freezes again on the eaves and gutter since these parts of the roof are significantly colder.
  5. The frozen meltwater clogs the gutter and forms the “dam.”

How Dangerous Is an Ice Dam?

When the ice dam clogs the gutter, melted snow will have nowhere left to drain. This will eventually result in leaks in the roofs, and bigger problems will start arising soon. Water reaching the wooden frames, for instance, can cause decay, which is hard to deal with. It will only be a matter of time before the damage worsens and the timber starts to deteriorate and cause the roof to collapse. 

Another problem with ice dams is that they can cause a large amount of snow to accumulate on the roof. The combined weight of the snow and the ice dam itself can reach up to several hundred pounds. If not removed immediately, the load on the roof can potentially cause structural and foundational damage to the house.

An ice dam can become even more dangerous at the end of the season when it starts to melt and fall down. The icicles that have formed along the eaves can drop and hit residents of the house. When this happens, serious injuries are to be expected.

How to Get Rid of an Ice Dam

There are many ways to get rid of an ice dam, but the most effective one is to prevent them from forming in the first place. Homeowners can prevent the snow from melting in the roof and freezing again in the eaves through proper insulation and ventilation in the attic. It is a good idea to request professional assistance from Madison roofing professionals even before the winter season comes. Experts can recommend possible options on how to install insulation and ventilation in the house, which inhibits the formation of ice dams.

For homeowners who were not able to accomplish any preventive measures, there are still ways to remove an ice dam that has already formed on the roof. First is to manually chip off the ice using a sharp tool. Doing this, however, can be dangerous since the roof is slippery during the winter, so it is quite unsafe to climb it. Another option is to put rock salt or calcium chloride in the gutter where the ice dam has formed. This melts the ice and lets it drain faster, getting rid of the clog in the gutter. This solution can corrode the metal parts of the roof, though, so homeowners should be wary before doing it.

The best way to remove an ice dam is to call an expert. Do not hesitate to get in touch with people who specialize in dealing with all kinds of winter roofing concerns. They have the right tools and skills to fix the problem for you.