Is Your Home at Risk for Ice Dams This Winter?

We are in the midst of winter, and with it comes numerous risks associated with unpredictable weather and cold. Ice damming is one of those risks. Ice dams can lead to many issues with the exterior and interior of your home. It can also greatly affect your wallet. Finding out if your home is at risk for ice dams and learning what you can do to prevent them is key.

What Is Ice Damming?
Ice damming is where your home’s heat escapes through your attic, warming up your roof. After a snowfall, the warm areas of your roof melt the snow, creating a flow of water that trickles down to the bottom of the roof. But, the roof is still cold.

When the snow melts and the water reaches the cold roof, it freezes into ice and traps the remaining water against your house. This water is then forced back underneath your shingles, finding its way into your attic, interior walls and ceilings of your home, costing you big bucks to repair the damage left behind.

Is Your Home at Risk for Ice Dams?
When it comes to ice dams, not all homes are treated equally. For instance, some split level and ranch homes built in the 50s and 60s, as well as some Cape Cod-style homes, seem vulnerable. Earlier, older 20th century homes that have walk-up attics, however, don’t appear to have that many ice dam problems, provided the floors of the attics are well-insulated and that attics haven’t been converted into finished areas.

Regardless, it’s always a good idea to know if your home is at risk. Some warning signs your home could be a target for ice damming are:

  1. You have icicles of any size and shape along your gutters and/or edge of your roof.
  2. Your gutters have become filled with ice or ice has developed along your roof’s overhangs.
  3. You have ice forming or water dripping on your home’s exterior surface.
  4. You have water dripping or icicles forming from your roof’s underside (i.e. the soffits).
  5. You have water penetrating your home’s interior (i.e. ceilings, windowsills, and/or walls).

The Benefits of an Attic Fan
One way to help with ice damming is to properly ventilate your attic. Adequate attic ventilation will help keep temperatures balanced and prevent cold and hot spots that cause ice dams where water can become backed up and freeze underneath your shingles.

An attic ventilation fan offers mechanical ventilation. It uses a fan that draws in the cool, outdoor air and forces out the moist, warm air. The attic fan draws in air and expels it through your roof vent system, keeping your attic drier and cooler. This helps to prevent moisture and ice problems throughout the winter. An attic fan does need electricity to run, so you’ll want to be sure you budget for the extra cost for this type of ventilation solution, but it is worth the investment, since natural vent attic ventilation may not be enough.