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What are Ice Dams?

Ice dams are dangerous masses of ice that build up along the edges of pitched roofs. They develop when heat escapes from your attic and begins to melt snow built up on the roof. When the roof heats up, the snow partially melts and moves toward the edges of the roof. As the water flows down the roof, it may refreeze when it passes over a cold expanse of roof. This typically happens at the eaves (the lowest edge of the roof) because eaves protrude beyond the wall of the house, making them less susceptible to the warming effects of heat leaks.

ice-damsIce dams create a barrier at the edge of the roof, and the melted snow pools behind the dam and causes water to seep under the shingles. After the melting and freezing process happens several times, the ice opens up the holes and pries open the shingles in the roof. This causes leaking and water damage to the roof, attic, and ceilings in the home.

The Dangers of Ice Dams

Some homeowners mistakenly neglect the removal of heavy snow from the roof or don’t consider checking for ice dams because there hasn’t been a problem before. Ice dams are dangerous — they can slide off a roof with enough force to seriously injure people and property. They can also cause significant damage to your shingles, gutters and downspouts. It’s important to learn safe, effective methods for ice dam removal so you can avoid the most expensive repairs and keep your family and guests safe.

The longer ice dams remain in place, the bigger problem they become. As snow continues to accumulate, melt and refreeze on your roof, the ice dam will grow in size. Moisture from the heavy block of snow and ice can slowly seep below your shingles, which can damage both interior building materials and rooms. This leakage and moisture can ultimately lead to mold growth as well.

Preventing Ice Dams

Iice-dams2t’s fairly easy to avoid these problems since ice dams are preventable. They are caused by inadequate air sealing and insulation between the living space of your home and the attic. Common culprits for leaking heat include vent pipes, recessed light fixtures, chimneys, attic access ways (pull-down ladders and hatches), heating ducts, and bath and kitchen exhaust vents. Ice dams can also be prevented by installing roof vents that allow hot air to escape. When attic air stays cool, it does not warm the roof and melt the snow. It is much easier to remove snow than an ice dam.

You can use a push broom or roof rake to clear as much of the snow and ice off your roof as possible – especially before the next round of heavy melting. When it comes to removing stubborn ice dams or preventing the structural damage they cause, it’s often easiest and most effective to call for professional help. Working with professionals who are prepared with the right tools, training and experience protects both your personal safety and the integrity of your home.

Call Us for Help

If an ice dam is leaking water into your home, removal becomes more urgent. Before your home suffers from water damage and mold, call ServiceMaster Cleaning and Restoration. Our trained technicians have the resources and support to help you resolve issues related to water damage from ice dams. Call ServiceMaster Cleaning and Restoration today!