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Protect 4 Critical Areas of Your Home From Ice Dam Damage

Posted on : January 18, 2024

Protect 4 Critical Areas of Your Home From Ice Dam Damage

Protect your home from ice dam damage this winter. Ice dams are common in snowy and frosty areas and can bring severe harm to your house if left unattended. At McClellands Contracting and Roofing LLC, we’re here to help you understand how ice dams can damage your home and how you can combat them effectively!

However, before we talk about ways to protect your home from ice dam damage, it's important to know what an ice dam is.

What Are Ice Dams?

An ice dam is a ridge of snow and ice along the edge of your roof that restricts the drainage of water. It forms when snow from the peak of the roof begins to melt and refreezes along the edge of your roof. 

Ice dams can be quite alarming because they form slowly and silently during the winter season, typically when there's snow followed by freezing temperatures. They may not seem like a threat at first as they often hide behind charming icicles hanging from roofs. 

Now, you might be wondering why homeowners should be concerned about something that appears commonplace. This brings us to the main issue we'll be addressing in this blog post.

How Ice Dams Can Cause Damage To Your House

Ice dams can harm several areas of your home, and some of them are more vulnerable to severe damage. Let’s learn more about the areas most at risk, and understand how they get damaged.

#1 Roof Damage

The roof is usually the first place you will notice ice dam damage. Roof damage from ice dams can be seen in various forms. It affects the roofing materials like shingles, the chimney, skylights, flashing, and underlayment, which serve as barriers against leaks and moisture damage. 

Shingles can curl and begin to pull away from the roof due to the ice, increasing the likelihood that water might leak through. The underlayment may also suffer damage in these situations due to repetitive freeze-thaw cycles that degrade its physical integrity.

#2 Rain Gutters and Downspout Damage

Rain Gutters and Downspout Damage

Gutters and downspouts are also highly vulnerable to ice dam damage. When ice dams occur across the edge of your roof they weigh down the gutters and downspouts, causing them to pull away from your home. The ice dams can even cause the gutters to freeze, causing issues with drainage and eventually leading them to burst or develop cracks. Professional gutter contractors suggest proper cleaning and occasional inspections to avoid such issues.

#3 Siding and Foundation Damage

Siding and Foundation Damage

Siding materials for homes like vinyl, steel, wood, and stucco are highly prone to damage caused by ice, snow, and temperature fluctuations. Ice dams and water overflowing from clogged gutters crawl down walls, causing discoloration, rot, and severe water damage. 

Additionally, the reoccurring freeze-thaw cycle around the foundation of a home can lead to significant structural damage. The accumulated water within your foundation could freeze and expand, resulting in cracks that jeopardize the safety and stability of your home.

If you spot damage on your home’s siding, don’t wait to schedule a free inspection with a reliable siding contractor in your area.

#4 Attic And Interior Damage

Let’s talk about ice dam damage inside the house. It’s the final stage where ice dams start causing harm to the attic and interior walls. 

Ice dams allow excess water to permeate roofs, where it condensates on cold attic surfaces or drips onto ceiling insulation. This leads to a whole new spectrum of problems like mold, higher humidity levels, or air quality that’s compromised. 

Water may also stain ceilings and walls with unsightly marks, leading to cracks and peeling paint. Interior water damage from ice dams is a serious concern, as the moist environment is also a breeding ground for mildew and algae, capable of triggering respiratory ailments among the elderly and children.

Therefore, understanding the specific areas at risk significantly helps you take effective steps to control and prevent ice dam formation.

Immediate Steps To Take If You Have Ice Dams

Tackling the problem quickly and efficiently can minimize long-term effects. After identifying ice dams, these are the immediate steps homeowners should take:

Removal Of Ice Dams Using Appropriate Techniques

Removal Of Ice Dams

Please note that it’s not safe to climb ladders in icy and snowy conditions, and such tasks also require specific instruments that may not always be available. If you are not handy with such tasks, you are putting yourself at risk. A casual approach can lead to accidents and may also damage your roof and gutters. 

The best way to remove ice dams is by going the professional route. Find and hire a good roofing contractor in your area that offers reliable snow and ice removal services. Being careful isn’t just an option, but a necessity when such dangers are lurking in your home.

Here are some techniques used by professional roofers to remove ice dams safely and effectively without damaging your roof: 

  • Raking: Long poles with roof rakes at the end allow you to pull down snow and ice from the edge of your roof and prevent damage to the shingles. 
  • De-icing Products: Alternatively, de-icing solutions that don’t affect the roofing materials, gutters, and siding can be poured along the edge.

However, these are just immediate measures to prevent further damage from occurring. If you don’t want to see ice dams return, you will need long-term solutions to put an end to this winter problem.

Long-Term Solutions To Prevent Ice Dam Issues

Effectively planning ahead requires taking adequate preventive measures. It’s inarguably one of the best investments we can make for our homes during winter.

Here are some solutions that your roofing contractor may suggest after inspecting your roof:

Repair Or Replace Old And Damaged Roofing Materials

Aging or damaged roofing materials are especially vulnerable to ice dam damage. Any signs of roof damage, like cracked or missing shingles, leaks, and sagging gutters, indicate that your roof has been compromised and you need urgent roof repair services. Otherwise, ice dams will keep forming and damaging your home.

Additionally, we recommend getting a professional roof inspection once or twice a year, especially before winter arrives. This way, you can take action to prevent winter damage to your home.

Install Heat Cables Or Wires Along The Roof’s Edge

Another helpful measure lies in installing heating cables along your roof edges. These tools, when correctly used and installed, produce enough heat to prevent significant ice buildup without risking damage to shingles or other roofing materials.

Assess and Install Attic Insulation and Ventilation

Attic insulation plays a big role in balancing temperatures. Inadequate insulation makes your attic prone to heat loss. Consequently, this heated air warms the roof’s surface, melting the accumulated snow, which then refreezes as it reaches the cooler edges of the roof.

The Department of Energy recommends an R-value (the measure of thermal resistance) between R-30 and R-60 for attics. Moreover, sealing around any lights, air ducts and chimneys can greatly improve overall efficiency by preventing warm air from leaking out of the attic space.

Additionally, good roof ventilation helps ensure a consistent temperature inside the attic space. A well-ventilated attic allows cold outside air to naturally flow in, balancing temperatures and minimizing uneven heating and cooling of the roof, preventing damage from ice dams.

Remove Snow Using Appropriate Techniques

Remember, safety should never be compromised. You can hire professionals for snow removal or do it yourself safely using proper techniques and tools.

Why Should You Hire A Professional Roofing Contractor To Handle Snow and Ice Dam Issues?

There are specific, compelling reasons why you should consider hiring professional services when dealing with ice dams:

Expertise

Professionals possess specialized knowledge about how ice dams form and have been trained explicitly on safe, efficient removal techniques. Trained eyes can also pinpoint signs of potential issues before they escalate into more significant problems.

Safety

Depending on the height of the roof, or its slope, removing ice dams can be dangerous work for anyone without proper training or equipment. Professionals are well-equipped with safety gear and know the best practices that ensure their protection as well as your home's.

In situations like these, taking prompt action is crucial. Using deicing techniques or hiring professional snow removal services can make a significant difference between a minor incident and potential damage costing thousands of dollars.

If you need a reliable contractor in Pittsburgh for your home’s roof, exterior, or interior needs, our team at McClellands Contracting and Roofing LLC is here to help.

Trust Your Local Experts To Prevent Snow and Ice Dams In Pittsburgh, PA

At McClellands Contracting and Roofing LLC, we want you to live safely and comfortably in your home. We’ve seen how snow and ice dams can cause damage to homes in our community, and we’ve trained ourselves to provide reliable solutions for these winter issues. If you need certified and skilled roofers in Pittsburgh, call us at (412) 353-5660. Schedule a free consultation with our expert to discuss all roofing needs!

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