Anatomy of an Ice Dam

February 19, 2016

Minnesota's biting winds, freezing rain and piles of heavy snow all can do a number on your roof. The number one problem? Ice dams. These tend to pop up during short thaws and early spring, as snow begins its cycle of melting and refreezing.

But what exactly is an ice dam, and why is it so hazardous to your house? Let's take a closer look.

How Ice Dams Form

Whether you get a blizzard or just a dusting, snow on your roof is the critical ingredient for the formation of ice dams. In most homes, heat from the inside of the house rises and seeps up into the attic, warming the roof and causing the snow to melt. As it does, water runs down from the roof. In an ideal world, it would drip off the edge of the roof and never be seen again; however, the last bit of roof overhangs the exterior wall of your house. Because there's nothing there but air (as opposed to your nice, warm living spaces), it's a cold spot that allows the run-off to refreeze. Those frozen bits build up and form an ice dam, sometimes with some pretty massive icicles to boot. Rain gutters can make the problem even worse, as they form an additional barrier that holds snow on your roof instead of letting it melt away.

What's the Damage?

When water is held in puddles on your roof's exterior, it's bound to seep into your house somewhere. Ice dams can force water back up under your shingles and down through the walls of your house, causing damage to your insulation and walls. These leaks can cause unsightly staining and even electrical problems. Water damage is also a major cause of mold and mildew, which can damage your belongings and reduce the air quality in your home, leading to respiratory problems for some people.

What You Can Do About Ice Dams

The root cause of ice dams is loss of heat from your house through the roof, so adding insulation can be a big help. For immediate relief, it's crucial to remove snow from your roof as soon as a storm has ended. If you're nervous about getting up there yourself, call  Keyprime Roofing and Remodeling  for professional snow and ice removal services instead. They have all the right equipment to get the job done right, while you stay warm and cozy inside.

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