It’s winter here in Colorful Colorado and while the snow covered roofs and gorgeous icicles are a comforting symbol of the winter wonderland we all adore, they can also wreak havoc on your roof and cause permanent damage to your building in the way of an ice dam.

What Is An Ice Dam?

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 into a home or business and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and other areas.

What Causes Ice Dams?

Nonuniform roof surface temperatures are essentially the cause of an ice dam. What does this mean? Well, when you have heat loss from inside a house or business, snow cover and outside temperatures below freezing will interact to form an ice dam.

The snow on a roof that is being heated from the warmth of the inside of an attic will melt and flow down the roof eventually reaching a portion of the roof that is below freezing reflecting the weather conditions outside.

The melted snow will then gather and form an ice dam which will grow as it is fed from the melting snow above it.

The dam will limit itself to portions of the roof that are 32 degrees or lower.

So the water from melting snow will start to back up and may begin to seep under shingles and into any cracks and crevices it can find flowing into the attic space. From the attic, you run the risk of water finding its way into exterior walls or into ceiling insulation.

How Can You Remove An Ice Dam?

  • Remove snow from the roof. This eliminates one of the key ingredients to the formation of an ice dam. A push broom or roof rake can be used to remove snow, but be careful not to damage your roofing materials or put yourself in harm’s way on a slick, steep surface.
  • In an emergency situation where the water is seeping into the building, you can make channels through the ice dam to allow for melting water behind it to drain off the roof. You can do so by gently hosing with tap water on a warm day working upward from the lower portion of the dam. This solution is only temporary and the channel will freeze and become ineffective so you will need to fix the underlying ventilation or insulation problems to prevent further damage.

How Can You Prevent An Ice Dam?

  • First, make the ceiling air tight so no warm, moist air can flow from the main building to the attic space
  • After sealing air leakage paths, consider increasing the ceiling or roof insulation to cut down on heat loss by conduction

Contact Scott’s Roofing Today!

Have further questions or concerns about your roof? The Scott’s Roofing team is here and ready to assist you! We offer both Residential and Commercial services. You can call us at 303.469.9287 or fill out our Contact Form , we look forward to hearing from you!

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