What are Ice Dams and do I have them?
Click the video (Courtesy of our colleagues at This Old House) for an explanation of ice dams.
Experts agree: Regardless if your roof is 30 years old or if it’s brand new, roofs in our extreme climates of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Colorado can and will create ice dams. These are a result of normal heat loss from your home that is melting snow on the upper sections of your roof. As water sheds down the roof, it meets the eaves (lowest section of the roof) and freezes. This is because the eaves are the area outside the building envelope and are not typically insulated. The water re-freezes with the snow at this point and builds up layers of ice. These “dams” trap a reservoir of water behind them that will back up, and will most likely find its way into any shingle system and eventually into a home if not properly addressed.
Ice dams are ultimately an issue of preventative maintenance. While a roof is designed to hold snow, and shed water, unless the roof is perfectly insulated and was designed to prevent ice dams, they can and will form. The easiest way to prevent and remove ice dams, is to keep the eave area of your roof (typically the first 4-6′ up the roof) free of snow buildup, so any melted water continues off the roof. This can be a DIY task for the homeowner to carefully pull down accumulated snow using a special snow rake for roofs.
If there are any ice dams that have built up, you can also use salt to further assist in melting an area for the water to runoff. WARNING: Do not chip at an ice dam with a hammer or try to pry it off the roof, as this will damage the shingles and possibly the structure. RJI does have options to have ice dams safely removed and can assist in the winter maintenance of your roof system. Call our office to get a quote for ice dam removal.