What Every Homeowner Should Know About Ice Dams
By Laura McElroy

People in Austin, Texas, might not be very familiar with it but those who live in colder regions of the country will be more familiar with ice dams. If you don’t yet know what ice dams are, you must become informed to protect your property. 

How ice dams develop, where they occur and why, will help homeowners to take action to minimize the damage they cause. Understanding the necessity of being informed about ice dams and their destructive potential, further means that you can be better prepared to safeguard your home. 

Melting and refreezing of snow and ice on your roof

Ice dams develop due to snowfalls and temperatures decreasing to below freezing. When your roof has hot spots, this promotes the development of ice dams at the sides of your roof. Roof hot spots will cause the snow closest to the heat to melt, typically at the highest point on the roof. 

As the melting snow moves towards the still frozen water at the lower roof regions, it freezes again, causing ice to form. Repeated thawing and refreezing results in ice dams forming at the roof edge. With ice build-up, it extends towards the shingles and sheathing. Thawing in this area can then promote water damage and leaks to occur.

Ice dams are recognizable from icicle development

Detection of icicles hanging from the edges of your roof is a sure sign of ice damming. These are frequently seen hanging from guttering because of ice having developed under the roof shingles. Melting and refreezing then encourages the movement of the water and ice to lower regions, producing icicles.

Keeping your house gutters clean throughout the warmer months, will prevent these from becoming clogged. Clogged gutters make good magnets for ice dams, so this is something you want to keep an eye on to prevent water damage. 

Although snow is not a big worry in Austin, Texas but still, water damage is a common occurrence. Having good roofing companies on hand to deal with prevention rather than cure scenarios, is the best way to manage roof health.

Uneven snow melting across your roof 

Homeowners can look out for other symptoms that indicate ice dams. If the snow is not melting in an even pattern across the expanse of the roof, is evidence of hot spots within the roof. These hot spots promote thawing and refreezing, which encourages ice dams. This is a situation that should be avoided.

A regular roof inspection to determine whether your house has hot spots or can potentially develop these is one way to manage ice dams. A roof inspection will quickly establish if there is a design fault in your roof, and what steps can be taken to rectify this problem.

Use roof vents or have these installed

Ice dams are created because of uneven temperatures across your roof. Homeowners can also detect possible ice dam issues if water damage is seen after a thaw, rather than after spells of heavy rains. This may be a reason to check that your roof vents are indeed open, allowing for even distribution of temperatures.

If the roof vents are damaged, stuck, blocked or damaged in any way, a roof specialist is required to fix these or to install new vents to take care of this problem. The sooner the roof vent issue is addressed, the less damage your roof is likely to suffer from ice dams. 

Other ways to recognize ice dam build-up

Other indications of ice dams can be seen in water leaks in the home’s walls. Water leaks may be noticed at openings like windows or doorways. The homeowner may see an increase in the development of ice on the outside walls of the house.

All of these signs of ice dams can be addressed with roof inspections, gutter checks, roof vent updates and general maintenance. Ensuring that roof insulation is upgraded is a prime way to take care of ice damming before the entire roof needs to be replaced, and more money needs to be spent on extended leakage.


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