What ice dams are and how to prevent them

They’re just as imposing as they sound: ice dams, those blocks of ice which form on a roof and threaten to leak into your home as they melt, leaving behind both physical and financial damage in their path.

Calgary homeowners cannot stop the onslaught of snow and ice which is headed this way, but they can take steps now to blunt these destructive forces of nature.

Science Behind Ice Dams

Homeowners often wonder why their home or their neighbor’s home is prone to ice dams while the other isn’t. After all, the two homes are subjected to the same weather conditions. But the formation of ice dams depends on a critical element: the amount of heat loss from a home.

Here’s why: ice dams form when the portion of a roof over the attic warms up enough to melt a layer of snow. This water flows down the roof until it reaches the eavestroughs and the edge/overhang of the roof. It stays cold in these areas because they extend beyond the side of a home. But it is here where the water freezes and grows – eventually growing into a block of ice.

Damage Caused

As they melt, ice dams threaten to:

  • Leak into a home, damaging walls, ceilings, the electrical system, and insulation.
  • Produce mold and mildew.
  • Dislodge shingles, causing even more water to seep into a home.
  • Break gutters and downspouts.

Key Preventative Steps

Since most ice dams form at the edge of the roof where it’s cold, a heat source in another location is warming the roof. And this source is clearly emanating from the home.

Pinpointing this source to prevent the formation of ice dams could involve several steps – beyond being vigilant about removing snow from the roof:

  • Ensuring ceilings are air-tight so no warm air flows into the attic.
  • Sealing air paths between the house and attic.
  • Installing the proper amount of insulation to reduce heat loss.
  • Ensuring the roof is properly ventilated so the temperature gets neither too warm nor too cold.

This solution requires a delicate balance, but it’s a balance many Calgary homeowners depend on Hubbard Roofing & Exteriors to achieve on their behalf. If you fear your home is prone to ice dams, don’t wait until disaster strikes. Make a preemptive strike by calling Calgary’s most trusted roofing company to schedule a roof inspection – and put your fears on ice.

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