Colorado often has weather conditions causing a freeze/thaw cycle which can cause damage to our homes and it’s components. The freeze/thaw cycle occurs when the temperature falls below freezing and returns to above freezing at frequent intervals over a period of time. One of the most damaging effects on our homes caused by the freeze/thaw cycle is called “ice damming”.
What is Ice Damming?
Ice damming is caused when the heat from a house begins to melt the snow on our roof from underneath. This melted snow or water runs towards the edge of the roof. When the roof has an overhang where the heat does not melt the snow it creates a snow or ice dam at the edge of the roof. This dam traps the water and prevents it from flowing freely into the gutters and forces it to back up under the shingles or other roof layers. The freeze/thaw cycle will cause this to continue until a leak or damage to underlying roofing materials occurs.
What can cause the conditions that result in ice damming?
Ice damming can occur for a number of reasons. The most common causes are 1) north facing sides of roof with large overhangs, 2) Improperly ventilated attic spaces, 3) Un-ventilated soffits
How can I tell if I have an ice dam?
One of the main indicators that an ice dam may be forming is the presence of icicles. Although you might find icicles hanging from a roof to be pretty they are most often an indication of a problem.
How do I prevent ice damming?
- Install heating cable along the edges of the roof where ice damming is occurring. Installing heat cable is something you can do yourself but you will need 2 very important things. A reliable, GFCI protected power source and the ability to work on your roof safely.
- Improve attic ventilation and insulation to reduce differences in temperature. Attic ventilation modification should only be done by a qualified contractor and roofer.