What is Ice Damming?

Ice damming is an unfortunate problem many people who live and work in areas with freezing cold temperatures are familiar with. It occurs in both residential homes and commercial buildings.

Proper roof ventilation through an attic fan, as well as proper insulation, can stop ice dams from forming, prevent structural damage, and even lower energy bills.

What are Ice Dams?

An ice dam is a long piece of ice that forms at the edge of a roof, often around or inside the gutters. It is caused by snow that falls off the roof and into the gutter or side of the house or building, then melts into water and freezes due to continuing freezing temperatures. It can cause extensive damage to a home or building, including affecting the roof, walls, insulation and ceilings when the water leaks back into the structure.

What Are the Causes?

Ice dams are caused when a ridge of ice forms at the roofs’ edge, which prevents melting snow to drain as it normally would. When it snows, that snow sits on your roof before it melts during the day when temperatures warm up. As it melts, it turns into water, which starts rolling down the roof and either building up on the edge or inside the gutters. Then, if the temperatures fall below the freezing point, the water freezes and turns to ice, creating an ice dam.

Ice dams have a higher probability of forming if an attic has inefficient ventilation and insulation, causing it to be warm.

What Kind of Damage Do They Cause?

Your gutters are not the cause of ice dams, but they are at risk of damage from the ice dams. The ice that builds up can slowly start causing damage to your gutters, as well as the edge of your roof, and lead to necessary repairs. When they are filling with the ice dams, the gutters might start bending and pulling away from the edge of your roof.

Your roof’s surface can also be damaged from the ice dams, as it can wear away at the paint and durability of the roofing materials. It may decay over time without a proper vapor barrier on the roofing shingles. The overall structure of your roof is also at risk with ice dams.

The water from ice dams melting can leak back into homes and buildings cause damage to walls and the ceiling, including mildew and mold. Damage to landscaping and parked vehicles can also occur as ice dams break off.

More seriously, injuries can occur as ice dams fall off or an individual attempts to break the ice dam.

How Can Ice Dams be Prevented?

Keeping the roof cold during the winter season is the best way to prevent ice dams from forming. You will need to do some work on the roof and repair any leaks you might have.

Next, make sure the attic is properly insulated and ventilated. Getting an attic fan, such as the QuietCool AFG ES-1500 Attic Fan, is a great way to keep the attic cool, no matter what the temperature is outside. You should also protect your roof and gutter by getting vapor lockers and high-quality roofing materials that can help prevent overheating.