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Roof Leaks in Winter and Ice Dams

In the winter time it is common for snow to build up on the roof of your home, melt and re-freeze. This process leads to the creation of an ice dam which can lead to leaks when the weather begins to thaw.

So – What Exactly are Ice Dams?

An ice dam refers to an ice ridge that forms along the edge of a building’s roof that prevents snow that is melting from properly draining from the roof. If you keep an eye out for ice dams and find them quickly, you can prevent an extensive amount of damage from being done to your home.

Tough winter processes of freezing, thawing and re-freezing can lead to water becoming trapped over the ice; thus finding a path under the shingles to begin a leak inside the home. The pitch of the roof plays a large role in this process. For example, homes built with lower pitches will find this to be a larger problem than homes built using a higher roof pitch.

Ice dams can cause roof shingles to lift overtime, allowing water to filter in. Besides causing leaks ice dams can also tear your gutters off which will most likely cause damage to the structure; hence, leading to potential flooding inside the house. Keep an eye out for hanging icicles as they can indicate the formation of an ice dam.

The Do’s and Don’ts Behind Dealing with Ice Dams

When you suspect there is an ice dam forming on your home, there are certain actions you should and shouldn’t take. If you keep reading we have compiled some of the most important below:

  • Phone a professional. Attempting to remove an ice dam can become very dangerous. So, the best place to start is calling a local roofing contractor that is reputable. You may also find that certain gutter cleaning companies in your area offer the service.
  • Remove all snow build-ups from the roof. If you are completing the job on your own, you can get a special tool to make it easier. This tool is referred to as a “roof rake”. Just be sure to pull it carefully down the slope of the roofline, and never pull the snow across your roof as you can damage the shingles.
  • When it comes to ice, chip away at it. If you need to take immediate action, begin by chipping away at the ice dam, stopping before you reach the roofing. This will allow the water to begin flowing through again.
  • Insulate and properly ventilate the home’s attic. Overly warm attics have been known to be a major cause of ice dam build-ups.
  • Never walk on a roof that is covered with snow. You should access and fix the damage while standing on a ladder.
  • Never install the home’s water heaters or other mechanical equipment in the attic. These items can be fire hazards, so it is best to stick with simple insulation to properly heat your home.
  • Don’t use calcium chloride or salt to melt snow from the roof. The chemicals can be very corrosive. Any run-off with these chemicals present will damage all plants and grass below.

In the end, just be diligent about checking often for the start of ice dams. At first site call a professional and have it dealt with before it becomes out-of-control and starts causing damage to your home.