Important Steps to Take to Prevent Damage From Ice Dams This Winter

Important Steps to Take to Prevent Damage From Ice Dams This Winter

Here in the greater Milwaukee area, we’re no strangers to snow and ice. While they make for some beautiful landscapes, they can be a dangerous combination for your home. Ice dams, in particular, pose a threat to your gutters, roof, and overall structure of your home. We advise you start thinking about taking care of your roof in autumn, but we understand you’re busy.

Fortunately, you’re in the right place for assistance. Keep reading to learn more about what causes ice dams and the steps you can take to help prevent them. 

How Ice Dams Form on Your Roof

Before we talk about prevention methods, it’s helpful to know how ice dams form and why they’re dangerous. When snow falls and lands on your roof, the heat escaping from your attic will start to melt the layer closest to the roof. 

That melted snow will then flow down the slope of your roof. Once it gets to the edge, where there’s no more escaping heat, it will then refreeze, forming a thick icy edge next to your gutters. Why is this cause for concern? Well, ice is heavy. When it sits on the edge of your roof, that extra weight can pull your gutters away from your home. 

Beyond that, as the snow melts, it can make its way through the under-layers of your roof, leading to water damage that can eventually make its way into your home.

how ice dams form

How to Prevent Ice Dams and Damage to Your Home

Now that you know more about how ice dams form, here are four steps you can take to prevent them from forming, stopping damage before it has a chance to start. 

1. Insulation

One of the most effective ways to prevent ice dams is by adding insulation to the inside surface of your roof. By adding extra insulation, you’ll reduce the amount of heat emanating from your attic, so when snow sits on your roof, it will be less likely to melt. 

You’ll also want to seal the air channels in the living space below the attic when adding insulation. Sealing these gaps can cut off heat flow into your attic, preventing ice dams in the process. As a bonus, this extra insulation will also improve your home’s energy efficiency!

2. Elimination of Attic Heat Sources

Another step you can take is eliminating heat sources in your attic. Oftentimes, this means replacing old recessed lights along the floor of your attic. These older lights can often radiate a surprising amount of heat into your attic. This heat then escapes and starts the ice dam formation process. 

By replacing these old lights with newer, more energy-efficient ones, you’ll eliminate this excess heat source from your attic, preventing ice dams from ever forming. 

3. Ventilation

To prevent ice dams, you’ll also want to make sure your attic is well-ventilated. When you circulate cool outside air into your attic, any snow sitting on top of your roof won’t be able to melt. So, while it might seem a bit counter-intuitive, a colder attic is the key to preventing damage from ice dams.

4. Electric Heat Cables

One final step to consider is installing electric heat cables along the edge of your roof. This way, when the snow melts on your roof, it won’t be able to refreeze once it falls down to the edge of your roof. Instead, the melted snow will continue to flow off your roof and down onto the ground. Since there’s always a risk when working with electricity and water, we recommend hiring a professional installer for the job instead of attempting it yourself. 

Make Sure Your Home Is Protected

We hope you found this guide to preventing damage from ice dams helpful! When you need assistance with your roof, gutters, or any other aspects of your home’s exterior, the Semper Fi Roofing & Exteriors team is the name to trust. Contact us today to request a free quote.