The destructiveness of ice dams can be extensive to roofs, gutters and your entire home if preventative action is not taken. When a ridge, or “dam” of ice forms on or near a roof’s edge, melting snow that accumulating on the roof has nowhere to drain. Instead, a potentially disastrous backlog of water remains on the roof, compromising the integrity of the roof’s materials as well as its ability to support excessively heavy moisture. Consequences of ice dams include costly water damage to your home’s ceilings, walls, insulation and foundation due to sudden and intense water leakage.

Conditions Promoting Development of Ice Dams

Unique interactions among climate, loss of heat from the home and the amount of snow covering the roof facilitates formation of an ice dam. Initially, the roof must hold at least an inch of snow while higher areas of a roof’s surface needs to be warmer than 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This occurs when the sun is shining directly on the roof but does not reach lower areas of the roof where ice readily freezes. Heat within the home also contributes to roof warming via conduction, radiation or convection.

Melting snow feeds the ice dam at the edge of the roof where it is cold enough to freeze water. However, liquid water remains above the ice dam, unobtrusively seeping into cracks and other small openings until the homeowner has a full-fledged disaster on his hands that requires the assistance of a professional roofing service.

Due to the high potential of damage by ice gutters should be regularly checked for defects or replaced if they are old and deteriorated. Having an ineffective gutter system surrounding your home’s roof permits further water damage to occur when ice prevents water from draining off the roof.

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