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Protecting Your Home in Extreme Weather: What Are Ice Dams How To Fix Them

March 6th, 2019 BY First American Roofing

If there is one thing you must be prepared for when it comes to living in the midwest during the winter, it’s being ready to keep your home safe from the elements. The part of your home that takes the brunt of the force? Your roof. During the winter months, your roof can sustain all types of damage. Large amounts of snow can cause harm to the roof, as can blistering winter winds, especially when accompanied by hail and sleet.

However, today we’re going to talk about another roof issue that is caused by extreme winter weather: ice dams. We’ll discuss what they are, how can you get rid of them without damaging your home, and finally how to keep them from forming in the first place.

What is an Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a blockage of ice that forms on the edge of a roof. Sounds pretty simple, right? But not many people actually know how these dams form. An ice dam may occur under the following circumstances: First, there is snow on your roof. Second, the average outside temperature is below 32 degrees. Last, the roof surface temperature is above 32 degrees at its higher end and below 32 degrees towards the lower end.

The dam will form when indoor heating rises through the ceiling into the attic and then warms the roof’s surface. Snow from the higher end of the roof will then melt and flow down near the bottom until it reaches the part of the roof that is below 32 degrees. The water will then refreeze into an ice dam.

The dam will then continue to grow as more melted snow works its way down the roof. Eventually, the dam will get so big that instead of the water freezing and becoming part of the dam, it will simply be trapped behind the dam. Eventually, this dammed water will find its way through cracks in the roof and flow into your home. Not good.

So, how do you get rid of an ice dam?

Ice Dam Removal

Ice dam removal is actually more simple than you might expect. Instead of grabbing your pickaxe and slashing away at the dam (which is extremely dangerous and may lead to further damage to your roof), you should use steam. At First American Roofing & Siding, we know that steam is the best solution when it comes to getting rid of heavy ice dams.

We use a steam machine at 302-degrees that easily melts the snow right off. It’s safe for us, safe for the homeowner, and safe for your roof and shingles. So, if you’ve got ice dams on your home, give us a call today at 608-783-3101 and we’ll free your home from that pesky ice dam in no time.

But once the ice dam is removed, what’s the best way to avoid another one forming?

Ice Dam Prevention

Ice dams usually form from both improper ventilation and insulation, so the best way to prevent an ice dam from coming back is by doing a home energy assessment. At First American, we work with owners to identify inefficiencies in their homes by doing what is known as a blower door test. We’ll see how well the ventilation is working in your home and where the air leaks are, as well as where your home’s insulation can be improved.

Not only will we help assess these areas of your home, but we will also solve any issues that do come up during the test. Contact us today to ensure that ice dams don’t form on your roof!