Throughout Minnesota winters the weather varies from below freezing blizzards to snow melting on a sunny, 40 degree day. With ice building up and melting in a vicious cycle, it’s not easy to keep up with maintaining your roof. Ice dams, if left untreated or without any preventative steps taken, can destroy any roof. When a roof has ice building up on it, it is suspect to leaks that can cause mold and water damage to ceilings, walls, and insulation, not to mention exterior structural damage due to the weight and pressure of the ice.

Let us walk you through the cycle of  ice dams and help you take preventative steps to maintain the quality of your roof!

An ice dam forms throughout winter when:

A) Hot air escapes into an unheated attic space and warms the roof deck and/or

B) Changes in temperature that cause snow to melt, and refreezing over the eaves as temperatures drop.

Under either circumstance, the snow begins to melt and travels down the roof.  Once this water reaches a cold spot – typically where the eave begins and there is no heat – it freezes and begins to form a dam. This cycle of melting snow turning into solid ice continues and begins to form higher and higher on your roof.  The pressure from the build-up can cause shingles to lift, buckle, and dislodge, allowing water to find a new pathway under the shingles and into your home.

Ways to help prevent ice dams:

1. Clear your roof from snow on a regular basis. In most cases it is safer to have a roofing contractor remove snow and ice dams to prevent homeowners from risk of injury, and to prevent further damage to a roof throughout the process of removal.

2. Seal all penetrations to the attic that are allowing air leaks (such as plumbing stacks, electrical cords, chimneys etc.)

3. Along with sealing penetrations, add insulation to increase the R value (thermal resistance) to help eliminate condensation and improve the energy efficiency when heating your home. Insulation will help reduce the amount of heat escaping your home.

4. Make sure you have the proper ventilation system for your roof according to building codes allowing cold air to pass through and hot air to escape quickly. This will help keep the roof deck cold.

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