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Ice Dams: Signs and Prevention

As temperatures drop and snow and ice begin to accumulate throughout the Front Range, ice dams become a real concern for property owners. Here at CJ Roofing we often hear from those interested in learning how to prevent ice dams this time of year. Why is this so important? To understand why ice dams are such a concern, it’s important to first understand how they form and the threat they pose to your home.  

What is an Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a mound of ice that forms at the edge of your roof preventing water and snowmelt from properly draining. This water backup accumulates on your roof and poses the risk of seeping into insulation, fascia, ceilings and walls.  

What Causes Ice Dams to Form?

Thawing and refreezing of snow melt, caused by ‘hot spots’ on your roof is the culprit behind ice dams. A properly sealed and ventilated roof is equipped to effectively shed snow and ice melt. Ice dams form when the higher areas of your roof reach temperatures above freezing while the edges of your roof are at or below freezing. For this to occur, outside temperatures must be below freezing for an extended period of time.

Once an ice dam forms, the issue only becomes exacerbated as more snow accumulates, melts and refreezes at the edges of your roof. One tell-tale sign of ice dams is icicles forming around your fascia. Where do these ‘hot spots’ in your roof come from? They can typically be attributed to one of the following:

·      Hot air leakage from your attic

·      Chimneys and wood stoves that release hot hair into your attic space

·      Exhaust vent caps that allow warm air leakage

·      Leaky ductwork that release hot air from your furnace into your attic

·      Inadequate insulation in your attic space

How Do Ice Dams Damage Your Home?

As water accumulates on your roof it will seep into even the tiniest of cracks, cracks that in many cases would not be an issue if proper watershed was taking place. In other words, ice dams can create major issues with your roofing system that would otherwise not pose a threat. Once water begins to seep in, the damage can be manifested in a variety of ways, including:

·      Water damage to ceilings and walls, resulting in discoloration and potential mold

·      Wet insulation which not only poses the threat of mold and mildew but settles and becomes less effective

·      Deterioration of paint on soffits, facia and siding

·      Water damage to roofing materials and decking

How to Prevent Ice Dams

If you had ice dams last year, or you find that they are forming this year, it’s important to act quickly and consult a professional. Climbing on your roof, particularly in bad weather, is dangerous and ill advised. Leave this to the professionals! If ice dams are causing leakage and damage, taking swift action is critical. Ice dams can be broken up to allow channels of water to flow through. This is a temporary fix. The long-term strategy should be to identify the culprit behind your roof hot spots as quickly as possible and take action. From adding insulation to closing gaps that are allowing hot air to seep through your roof, you can reduce energy waste and solve your ice dam issue.

CJ Roofing: Your Roofing Experts

Time is of the essence when it comes to preventing ice dams. By acting quickly, you can avoid irreversible damage to the structural integrity of your home, as well as your roofing system. If you suspect that water is leaking through your roof, we encourage you to contact us today! At CJ Roofing, we’ve been proudly serving the Denver metro for more than 4 decades. During this time, we have helped thousands of homeowners protect and maintain their roofing systems. Contact us today and schedule your complimentary, no-obligation roofing inspection.