We all know what it’s like after that first snow fall in the northeast. There’s nothing like it. Even if you’re not a fan of the cold, most people will admit the first snow is spectacular. The unobstructed, rich white powder covers our homes and icicles begin to form on your gutters. While the snow and ice make for a gorgeous photo at first, those small icicles are the beginning of your home’s enemy; ice dams.
Removing Snow or Ice From Your Roof
When snow builds up on your roof, it can cause ice damming. If you follow the best roof ventilation methods for your Hudson Valley home, ice dams will be less likely, but still possible. If your roof is ventilated correctly, you might not need to remove the snow.
What is an Ice Dam?
An ice dam occurs when a ridge of ice forms along the eave of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining. When snow on your roof melts, it refreezes and backs up under your roof shingles. During the treacherous months of winter, your roofing is likely to accumulate snow and ice. This is especially true if you are in the New York area. Ice dams can form on even the most well designed roofs, but the severity can vary.
What Causes Ice Damming
They are a result of a combination of snow loads, heat losses from the structure, outside temperature, building materials, ventilation and structural integrity.
How Do Ice Dams Form?
As the heat in your home rises, it melts snow from the top of your roof, causing it to run down towards the eaves and gutters where heat isn’t collecting. Once it reaches this point it freezes, and begins to build up, causing the dam.
Are Ice Dams Problematic?
The short answer is yes. When ice builds up, water is trapped and backs up behind the dam. The ice on the lower slopped portion of your roof prevents water from draining. This will cause damage to your roof shingles and lead to leaks in your home. Water will take the path of least resistance. This causes devastating damage to anything in its way; including walls, insulation, ceilings, and expensive personal property that may be inside the house, close to the penetrated area.
Ice Dams Must Be Addressed
Ice damming must be addressed immediately! Once snow, turns into ice, it can’t be ignored. Ice dams can damage your roofing shingles, and also significantly increase the weight of your roof. Ice dams can also be a safety risk as it melts and falls off your roof, putting your family and friends at risk. The extent of the damage ice can cause depends on the quality of your roof, the roof’s age, the structure of your home, and environmental factors.
Can I Prevent Ice Dams?
Even the most well designed roofs can be victim to ice damming in the right conditions. However, there are ways to minimize the risk.
Make Sure Your Roof Ventilation Is Working
Proper ventilation and insulation is key. A properly insulated ceiling will prevent warm, moist air from leaking from the home into the attic space. Ventilation will ensure that any air that does leak through will be evenly distributed.
Remove Excessive Snow
Addressing the snow on your roof can also prevent issues. During the winter months, from time to time you may have to remove the snow with a roof rake. Only an experienced, licensed roofer should do this, especially during the slippery winter conditions. If there is no snow on the roof, there is no chance of it melting unevenly and causing obstructions.
Ask An Experienced Roofer
As with most home maintenance, prevention is your best option. Do what you can to minimize the risk by making sure your home is winter ready. Before the heavy snow and cold starts, make sure your gutters are clean of debris, and there are no damaged shingles or flashing.
If you are impacted by ice dams, you should contact a licensed and insured roofer, like MCAS Roofing & Contracting, Inc., who has the experience to address the problem. A roofer can carve temporary channels in the ice to direct the flow of water, remove snow, and manage ice to minimize damage and keep your friends and family safe. If you need a hand, just let us know.