Icicles that form during Northwestern Ontario’s never-ending winter may look beautiful, but they could be a symptom of something sinister – ice dams.
Ice dams are thick ridges of ice that build up along a home’s eaves. They block melting ice from escaping through the eavestroughs and they can spell it huge problems for your home, including a collapsed roof.
How do ice dams form?
When heat rises in your home, poor insulation and ventilation can allow this warm air to escape and heat your roof. The snow melts and causes water to flow until it’s far enough away from the attic’s warm air to freeze. As this process repeats itself, the melted snow continues to freeze in the same area to create a buildup of ice that eventually forms an ice dam.
Are ice dams damaging?
Fresh water ice weighs about 60lbs per cubic foot. When you consider that, it makes sense that ice dams can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back-up into your home causing peeling paint, sagging ceilings, and soggy insulation. On lower pitched roofs, even a thin ice dam can be problematic. At best, ice damming is a preventable, or at least fixable, situation. At its worst, it’s very damaging on your home and potentially dangerous.
How to prevent ice dams
The Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) has published these helpful tips to keep your home free of ice dams:
1. Check your roof once a week to monitor the snow and ice accumulation; if you can, remove the snow and ice with a roof rake before it builds up.
2. Insure that your attic is adequately insulated
3. From inside your home, seal any perforations in the ceiling
4. Ensure your soffit vents are not blocked by insulation
5. Draw more air into the attic through the gable and eave vents
6. Keep roof vents free of snow so cold air can circulate in your attic
7. Make sure that the ducts connected to the kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents all lead outside through either the roof or walls, but never through the soffit.
8. If you are installing a new roof, have the contractor provide options for an ice and water shield.
We know that ice damming can happen despite your best efforts and intentions. Luckily, your home insurance policy could help to support you through any necessary repairs. If an ice dam has formed on your roof, do not climb up to inspect it or remove it yourself – leave that to the professionals. Instead, check your attic for leaks.
If you do find a leak, give Jones & Associates a call to chat about next steps.