Admittedly, we don’t often get lots of snow in Roanoke but according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, this winter is expected to be mild and snowy. Snow and a roof that lacks proper insulation and ventilation are the combination needed for dangerous ice dams.
What is an Ice Dam?
Many people look at homes, see icicles hanging from gutters after a snowstorm, think they’re lovely, and wonder how they form and why only some homes have them. The homes that have them actually have poor ventilation, are lacking insulation or a combination of both. An ice dam forms when the snow on the roof melts from the heat rising in the home, runs into the gutter and re-freezes. When this happens over and over again, eventually the gutters are full and the water begins to run over and freeze creating the icicles.
Why are Ice Dams Harmful?
There are numerous dangers when it comes to ice dams. The most obvious is that large icicles can fall and hurt someone or something beneath. However, that is the least common issue stemming from these lovely displays. The primary danger is that ice dams create water damage to your home.
Water damage occurs when the water backs up and pushes underneath the shingles at the edge of the roof. The water turns to ice and melts slowly allowing water to seep into your attic. Because water takes the path of least resistance you may see water damage from ice dams anywhere from you attic to your walls and floors beneath.
Another bit of damage that ice dams do is to your gutters. When gutters fill with ice, they are much heavier for longer periods of time than when water runs from your roof to the ground. The weight can cause them to pull away from the home, possibly falling. If your home experiences ice dams this winter, be sure to inspect the gutters in the spring and make sure they are fully attached to the home.
What Can be Done?
There are a few things that you can do now to prevent ice dams from forming especially if you’ve had them in years past. First, make sure you have proper insulation in your attic. For the Roanoke area, the recommendation is to have R38 to R60. If you have about six inches of insulation which is fairly common, then you have an R value of 22 and adding 3-6 inches will bring you up to recommended levels. Total height of blown in or rolled insulation shouldn’t exceed 12”.
If your insulation seems proper for the area, you may need to have a roofer inspect your ventilation. When a roof doesn’t have proper ventilation, heat rising from the home becomes trapped and makes the area warmer than the outside contributing to melting the snow. The edges of the roof are typically cooler which is where the re-freezing occurs.
Many roofers in Roanoke can repair roof damage, Abracadabra Restoration Specialists can handle all aspects for ice dam prevention and repair. If you had dams form last year and want to prevent them this year, it’s not too late. Call us at 540-977-0045 and we’ll inspect your roof and advise you on the best steps to take before the snow begins to fall.