Common Winter Roofing Problems: Ice Dam Damage

Common Winter Roofing Problems: Ice Dam Damage

In Delaware, like in many other places, ice dams can be a fairly common residential roofing problem. Ice dams can be an irritating and expensive source of leaking roofs and damaged homes, requiring the help of experts in roof leak repair.

Ice Dams 101

There are three “ingredients” necessary for an ice dam to form: snow, heat to melt the snow, and cold temperatures to refreeze the melted snow into solid ice.

Ice dams are created as snow on the upper part of a roof melts. The melted snow water runs down the roof slope under the blanket of snow, then refreezes into bands of ice at the roof’s edge to create a dam. Once the dam forms, additional melting snow continues to build up and form pools behind the dam, eventually leaking into the home through the roof or roof trim.

The reason ice dams form along the roof’s lower edge, usually above the overhang, is fairly simple. Heat lost from the home warms the upper roof surface, toward the ridgeline. However, the lower part of the roof surface, along the uninsulated eaves and gutters, is below freezing.

Although ice dams can form when as little as one or two inches of snow accumulates on a roof, deeper snow and cold temperatures increase the likelihood and size of ice dams. Every inch of snow accumulating on the roof adds insulation to the roof deck, trapping more indoor heat beneath the roof deck and warming the roof sheathing.

Ice Dam Damage & Prevention

Damage from ice dams includes shingle damage as well as mildew, both on the exterior and interior of your home—and water leakage within the walls of your house. Ice dam damage can be significant but there are some preventative steps you can take to try to avoid them. We’ll discuss ice dam damage prevention next week.

Meanwhile, if you suspect your roof is improperly ventilated or has already succumbed to ice dam damage, call All Roofing Solutions at 302-725-ROOF (7663). We offer thorough roof inspections which allow us to uncover even most hidden roofing problems and offer repair options. We also offer emergency roof repairs in case the damage requires immediate attention.

One Comment

  1. Posted January 16, 2014 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    While ice dams cannot be completely prevented, lots can be done about it. It starts beneath the roof, in the attic when proper ventilation is crucial to keeping a healthy roof system.

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