Just the Cold Hard Facts – About Ice Dams

The Facts About Ice Dams and The Issues They Can Cause

Winter has made its presence known and it makes me shiver to think of all the damage that can occur due to heavy snow, freezing rain, and the continual freezing/melting cycle.   I think this would be a good time to examine the cold hard facts about ice dams.  To better serve the community you will find below information that explains how ice dams form and how to prevent them.

Roofers see ice dams particularly on homes where the attic is warm.

“Attics are supposed to be the same temperature as it is outside,” says Mark Brewster of Brewster Roofing. ” The warm, moist air from the living space is enough to cause the snow on the roof to melt, running down the roof only to refreeze at the edge, creating a dam.  Subsequent melting causes water to back up behind the dam and under shingles thus leaking into your house.”  (You can visit www.brewsterroofing.com for more insights regarding ice dams.)

From the State Farm Insurance website, it’s explained this way.

“When the temperature in your attic is above freezing, it causes snow on the roof to melt and run down the sloping roof.  When the snow-melt runs down the roof and hits the colder eaves, it refreezes.  If this cycle repeats over several days, the freezing snow-melt builds up and forms a dam of ice, behind which water ponds.  The puling of water can back up under the roof covering and leak into the attic or along exterior walls.  The right weather conditions for ice dams is usually when outside air temperatures are in the low 20s (⁰F) for several days with several inches of snow on the roof.” Visit Statefarm for more information.

Sources of warm air can be vent pipes, exhaust fans, chimneys, attic hatches, wall/ceiling framing joints, wiring, and light fixtures.  This air movement needs to be stopped.  State Farm’s website recommends preventing warm, moist air in living spaces from infiltrating into the attic. Accomplish that with a good air barrier and appropriate water vapor control at the base of the attic.  Also, provide good attic ventilation to replace the warm air in the attic with cold air from outside. Then, if necessary, add more attic insulation or ventilation.  But just adding insulation or ventilation is not the answer; the air leaks must be closed.

As a point of interest to our readers, we have recently seen an increase in the number of requests from customers to solve their problem with ice dams at the gutter.

Ice Dam Examples on Home Ice Dams Example on corner of house Example of Ice dams hanging over front entry way to house

Ice dams can damage the shingles and cause roof leaks.  We introduced them to an electrician, Larry Morris of Smart Power Services.  Smart Power Services worked in coordination with our crews to install a self-regulating heat tracing cable in the gutter under the gutter guard and down the downspout running a circuit from an outdoor outlet to the downspout.

Now that we understand the cause of ice dams let’s examine how Advantage Gutter Guard® protects your gutters.  Advantage Gutter Guard® prevents freezing rain, snow, and sleet from entering into your gutter system and creating a 5 or 6-inch block of ice.  Ice in gutters is extremely heavy and many times will pull your gutter loose or off.  As we have already learned, ice blocks melting snow and ice from moving through your gutters. This, in turn, can create ice dams.  Advantage Gutter Guard® prevents damaging ice from entering your gutter system. However, icicles may form on the front edge of Advantage Gutter Guard®.  Gutter Cover Kansas City does not guarantee you will not have an ice dam. However, Advantage Gutter Guard® will reduce the risk of ice damage to your home.

Knowledge empowers you to make the right decisions.  At Gutter Cover Kansas City we don’t want to just sell a product.  Our mission is to educate and inform regarding the importance of protecting your gutters.