Why Are There Icicles on My Roof?

Icicles might be pretty to look at, but they can potentially damage your home or business. And, when you have icicles, you are sure to have ice dams. These are a fairly serious problem too. You might not even know you have them. If you notice a layer of thick, solid ice building up along your roof’s edge when you look outdoors, this could mean trouble for you.

The freezing temperatures outdoors, warm temperatures indoors, and piles of snow on your roof is the perfect recipe for ice dams and icicles. Warmer air rises up into your attic melting the snow that piles up on your roof. However, the snow on the eaves is not melted which causes the snow melt from your roof to freeze up on your eaves and build up ice. And since there is no place for it to go, the water begins backing up behind the dam.

This ‘building up’ and ‘backing up’ of water can cause serious trouble. Roof experts claim that your roof shingles can become loose from the dams and result in water leaking into your home. Here’s what you can do:

Attic Bypasses Need to be Closed up
A significant amount of heat loss can come from your attic ceiling. This is typically due to air leaks coming from gaps in your drywall, unblocked walls, plumbing pipes, light fixture cracks, ceiling penetrations and access hatches. Be sure you close up all bypasses in your attic to stop air leaks.

Add Insulation
Keep your heat inside your home by adding more insulation. You can consult with your city’s building department to determine how much attic insulation to install.

Caulk Penetrations
Seal around vent pipes and electrical cables using a fire-stop sealant. Check to see if any of your insulation is black from dirt left behind from passing air or if you see any areas where light is shining through.

Ventilate Ridge and Eaves
Circulate cold air underneath your roof with continuous soffit vents and a ridge vent. Both soffit and ridge vents need to have equal size openings and for every 300 sq. ft. of attic floor, have a minimum of one sq. ft. of opening. Maintain a clear airflow path from the soffit vents by placing baffles at the eaves.

Bottom line, if you are having trouble with icicles and snow dams and want to prevent serious issues, plumbing and roofing companies say that it’s important to get gutter and roof inspections every spring and fall. They will also be happy to come over and clear away your ice and snow.

You should also be sure that you have proper attic ventilation through the use of an attic fan.