Todd Miller - Roofing Expert

Ice Dams

Folks who live in northern climates that are prone to snow and ice know that one of the things that they hate seeing happen on the roof is what we call ice damming. Ice damming can be very dangerous it can lead to leave to leaks, It can lead to roof damages. So how do you make sure that you’re going to avoid it?

What are Ice Dams?

Ice damming actually occurs because heat from inside your home migrates up into the attic. Once that heat migrates into the attic if it’s not vented out properly, it creates hot spots on the roof. So that means that your shingles, or metal roof, or whatever covering is on your roof gets hot in certain areas. When it gets hot, it’s going to cause the snow load on your roof to melt. When that snow load starts to melt it causes water to start flowing down your roof. Now think about this… that water flows down your roof until it hits the bottom of roof (which is not over the living space…that is actually over the overhang on your roof) and that’s where it starts to ice. Once it starts to ice on the overhangs of your roof, it just starts to build up and you can actually build up ice several inches or even a foot or more thick on the overhangs of a house. As that happens that water just starts to back uphill, and it can’t escape the roof anymore. It runs into this ice dam, starts to backup, and that’s where it gets underneath shingles, gets in your house, and causes problems.

How Do I Avoid Ice Damming

So, what’s the best way to avoid ice damming? Keep your attic cold. The best way to do that is through ventilation. If you got proper ventilation (meaning you’ve got air coming in at the bottom of roof) and then flowing properly through the Attic to exhaust out of the top then you’re going to keep your attic cold… you will not have those hot spots develop on the roof, and as a result you will not have ice damming. Don’t care what type of roof you have installed on your house whether its conventional shingles, whether it’s metal, whether it’s wood shake, ice damming can be very damaging and dangerous and you don’t want it to happen.

So, good ventilation is the number one key to avoiding ice dams on your roof.