I was doing some research today on Ice Dams - which so many of folks are dealing with today. Normally, I discuss articles based on some research and my own findings, but in this case, there were so many good sites devoted to the topic, I thought I would just cross post some of the better ones I found.
- More from Moonworks Home Improvement
The diagrams say it all, but the key takeaways for everyone are:
Ice Dams can't Always be Prevented.
If the weather patterns fall a certain way, virtually every roof - no matter how well situated to prevent them - could have a ice damn. But a proper roof situation can minimize the damage an ice dam might cause. So the question is, are you having them every year, and are they affecting your interior or your walls? That's a bad situation, and needs adjustment.
Proper Ventilation is Critical
Not all homes make it easy to keep the edge of the roof cold, but ventilation in the attic is the key to minimizing ice dam damage. If you're having ice dams, check your roof to make sure you have good air flow from soffits to ridge vents, and that the soffits aren't blocked by insulation. We see these problems at many, many inspections. The colder the attic, the fewer ice dams you will have. If the air flow is good, but your still having problems, it may be time to look at roof heat wire - if the roof is young - or adding water and ice shielding to a new roof could be the next steps.
If you're going to re-do your roof, don't skimp on ice shielding to prevent ice dam damage.
Many roofers to save costs at install time will just install 6 or 8 inches of roof edge, which provides valuable ice dam damage protection. Although nothing short of a full metal roof will really guarantee you won't have an issue, each inch helps protect the roof underlayment and everything else under it - including your home. If you're redoing your roof, ask for extra roof edge (the flashing under the edge of your roof, usually aluminum). Get 12 or 18 or even 24 inches, depending on your pitch, ventilation, and history of problems.
Gutters can Exacerbate Ice Dam Problems!
It's true. While most homeowners rate gutters as a plus to have, if you don't have them, your ice damning may be less of a problem. Gutters are terrific at catching water, but that feature is an issue when you're trying to get the water away from your roof and it keeps freezing.
4. The thawing of an ice dam can be more dangerous than the freeze up.
The snow at the top is likely to melt quicker than the ice at the edge of your roof; that creates water with no place to go except back under your shingles. Yikes! If a real melt down is coming, or rain is expected in the forecast, and you have large ice dams, think about removing them.
Be cautious when doing removing ice dams yourself!
First off, if you're going to do it your self, be REALLY careful. Heights, snow, ice, and sharp and heavy objects are a super dangerous combination, and not to be taken lightly. Make sure to use shovels without metal edges (to avoid roof damage), and use professional ice picks to hack away at ice. Remember to use eye protection. The right tools go along way for safety. Screwdrivers, hammers, and blow torches are NOT ice removal tools. And while we're at it, pulling on an ice dam from underneath it is a good way to get crushed. Be smart. Don't be this guy.
Do Good Things Today!