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Ice Dams 101: What You Need To Know

Winter is a beautiful time of year, but it’s a season of challenge for homeowners. Heavy snowfall and the ever-changing thermal cycle are constant concerns, but there is perhaps no greater worry than that of ice dams. The frozen menace haunts homes with sloped roofs, threatening significant damage and costly repair or replacement. Here’s what you need to know about ice dams.

What Is an Ice Dam?

Ice dams form along eaves and gutters and are typically the result of poorly or improperly insulated attics. Heat escapes from the home, warming the roof and causing accumulations of snow and ice to melt. As the runoff reaches the eaves, which is not warmed by the escaping heat, it freezes. The process continues throughout the winter and the ice dam increases in size.

What Damage Do Ice Dams Cause?

Ice dams pose significant risk to a roof’s shingles. As it moves up the roof, the dam wedges under shingles, causing them to loosen, crack, or break off entirely. This exposes the roof to water damage, which can be witnessed in an attic in the form of rusty fasteners, peeling paint and water leaks. As water reaches the insulation, it adds another problem: mold growth. It all pales in comparison to the costly risk of roof replacement that results from not addressing ice dam problems. Estimates place average roof replacement costs at between $400 and $550 per square.

Can Ice Dams Be Prevented?

The fight against ice dams begins in the attic. Ensure the area is properly insulated, and plug any leaks with caulking, foam spray or weatherstripping. It’s also a good idea to have a thorough professional inspection by commercial roofing contractors alexandria or in your area. Keeping gutters clear of debris also lessens an ice dam’s impact.

Ice dams are one of winter’s woes. With proper awareness and prevention, however, you can enjoy the season without worrying about damage to your roof.

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