Chesapeake Roofers: Article About Preventing Ice Dams
As heat rises from a home, it can melt snow that has accumulated on a rooftop. Then, the melted snow travels down the roof until it reaches the eaves and gutters where it often refreezes because of colder temps. This ice ridge, or ice dam, expands throughout the winter, blocking the flow of melted snow from the roof. Eventually, water collects in a puddle behind the ice dam. It doesn't freeze since the roof is warmer in that area.
The accumulated water can work its way underneath shingles, causing damage to ceilings, walls and floors. It can also harm insulation and encourage the growth of mold and mildew. The added weight of the ice dam often causes gutters and downspouts to pull away from the house, sometimes bringing the fascia boards with them. Winter icicles are an obvious early sign that a home has a problem with ice dams. Experienced Chesapeake roofers can help homeowners remove ice dams and make sure that new ones don't form.
To keep snow from melting in the first place, homeowners should prevent heat from reaching the roof. Insulation and ventilation is essential to keep the surface of the roof near outdoor temperatures.
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The attic floor, folding attic stairways and any recessed light fixtures all need to be insulated. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, this can save homeowners up to 50 percent on heating and air conditioning bills. People should also have soffit, gable or ridge vents in their roofs to expel heat that seeps into the attic despite the insulation.
Homeowners can also remove snow before it has a chance to melt and form an ice dam. A large amount of snow could even cause a roof to collapse. However, climbing a ladder onto a potentially icy roof could be dangerous, and most people can't remove all the snow themselves with only a roof rake or broom. These tools can also scrape some of the protective mineral surface from asphalt shingles or even cause cracked shingles. Contact an expert if snow or ice dam removal is needed.
Deicing cable, also called heat tape, is installed along eave lines to keep water from freezing. Most systems switch on automatically when the outside temperature falls below a certain level. They're effective in some cases, but the electrically heated cables often just cause ice dams to form at a higher place on the roof. They can also create a fire risk and shorten the lives of shingles near them.