Ice Dams and the Risk of Winter Roof Leaks

Ice Dam

As El Niño continues its snowy march, ice dams are becoming a big problem for homeowners in northern Utah and all along the Wasatch Front.

Even a normal winter can wreak havoc with your roof, as a moderate amount of accumulated snow and ice can damage roof tiles and shingles. This winter, unfortunately, is already shaping up to be worse than normal.

Read on to learn more about ice damming and how you can protect your home during this year’s harsh winter weather.

What Is an Ice Dam?

Heavy snowfall, especially when followed by rain, is truly a recipe for roof disaster.

The weight of accumulated snow is bad enough, but did you know that snow absorbs even more water when it rains? At night or whenever the temperature drops, this slushy mess freezes, potentially compromising not only your roof but also your home’s structural support system.

Ice dams form when snow and water build up on the roof, usually at a low point or just above the gutter. Because little or no heat escapes from your roof at these locations, a thick wedge of ice forms

The Dam Is Only the Tip of the Iceberg

Ice damming is dangerous on a number of levels. When the sun comes out and the thawing process begins, large sheets of frozen menace can come crashing down from above.

Both heavy and sharp, these shards can seriously damage whatever lies below – including your landscaping, your car, your patio or even your head!

Falling chunks of frozen water aside, melting ice dams hold a huge amount of moisture in place atop your roofing material. Eventually, the water must find somewhere to go and, if it can’t drip off the eaves or into the gutter, it will find its way below your shingles.

Once the water breaches your exterior roofing system, it makes its way through the underlayment and into your attic, down your walls and through your ceiling. The potential water damage can result in thousands of dollars of costly repairs.

What doesn’t find its way inside your home can lead to condensation on the underside of the roof, which then becomes trapped between the roof and its insulation. If the condensation can permeate the structural wood support components of your home, it can refreeze there – and expand.

Not only can this damage the wood, but it can also lead to worsening roof leaks.

How To Prevent Ice Dams

Customers may feel compelled to try to remove accumulated snow and ice themselves, but this is dangerous for all kinds of reasons.

It’s extremely easy to get hurt while climbing around overhead in freezing conditions. It’s also very common for homeowners to damage to their roofs even further.

You can help prevent the accumulation of ice by cleaning out your gutters after the leaves fall – but before the snow does! Making sure your attic is properly insulated and ventilated will also help. You can even have heat cable systems added to your roof and gutters, to help keep accumulation at bay.

Unfortunately, even the best preventive strategies may not be enough.

We recently heard from a customer who had a commercial (“builder grade”) heat cable system installed but, despite this level of protection, the ice won the battle, resulting in one of the largest ice dams we’ve every seen here at Knockout Roofing.

When that happens, your best option is to give us a call. We have the professional tools and experience necessary to safely – and effectively – remove accumulated ice and snow before a serious problem develops.

Winter is not the ideal time to have extensive work done on your roof, but we can minimize the threat of damage until fair weather returns. We can also evaluate your home for potential damage. That way, you can make sure that any necessary repairs are done before the April showers arrive.

Don’t take chances with your safety or your home’s well-being. Call Knockout Roofing today for help and advice for dealing with accumulated snow and ice dams.