How to Prevent Ice Dams from Damaging Your Home

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blogDid you know it’s possible (actually, quite easy) to cruise your neighborhood and predict who’s likely to have ice dam problems, and who isn’t?

Here are three telltale signs:  clogged up gutters, worn down and missing roof shingles and, on especially colder days, the sight of heat escaping through the attic.

Of course, if you do opt for such a drive-by inspection, don’t overlook your own residence.

What exactly is an ice dam?  Here’s how the University of Minnesota defines it:

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak intoa home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas.

The good news is that ice dams can be prevented, and here’s how:

  • Make sure your gutters and downspouts are completely clean. And then next spring, either replace your gutters or install gutter guards to prevent any further accumulations of leaves, sticks, and other debris.
  • Shore up your attic insulation to prevent heat loss.
  • The next time you replace your roof, be sure to have the contractor install a water-repellent membrane underneath the tiles as an added layer of protection for keeping water out of your attic.
  • Use a rake, shovel, or push broom to remove snow from your roof after each storm.

How to Break up an Ice Dam

If an ice dam forms along the edge of your roof, there’s no guarantee that water will penetrate your attic.  Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry.  So, if you can reach the roof safely without fear of slipping or falling, use a rake to knock away as much of the ice as you can.  If you climb up to the gutter, spread ice melt along the edge of the roofline, especially if the ice is too thick to remove completely any other way.

And if none of that works?  Contact a professional for help.

Here’s something else to consider:  if you have forced air heating, you might also have one or more leaking air ducts that are causing snow to melt on your roof before forming an ice dam.  Just to play it safe, Burton today, your Omaha heating professionals, for our heating system cleaning and inspection service.  If any of your ducts are cracked or leaking, we’ll find them during our inspection and recommend the proper corrective measures.