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Ice Dam Prevention and Water Removal

Water damage in the home comes from many sources, not the least of which may be in the form of ice dams, at least in those homes prone to colder climates. Ice dams are somewhat more complicated problems as far as water damage goes, and the fixes are a bit more involved, and because most homeowners fail to inspect their roofs and attics frequently during the winter months, the problem of ice dams may occur and settle in without folks even being aware of it.

Ice dams typically occur when the temperature in the attic rises to the level sufficient enough to cause ice on the roof of your home to melt. This water runs down the roof until it encounters the colder eaves, at which point it refreezes. Once this cycle has repeated several times, the frozen snowmelt builds up and forms a literal dam of ice. This “ponding” of water can back up under the roof covering and leak into your exterior walls or the attic.

Most current building codes have requirements designed to cut down on the instances of ice dams, but since codes don’t always address every issue, many houses get around this restriction, and many older constructs were built before such codes became the norm.

If you want to prevent ice dams from occurring on your roof, there are several things you can do. Firstly, properly insulate your attic flooring and use a dehumidifier to prevent warm moist air from infiltrating the attic. Seal up all opening that would allow vapor to rise into the attic, and avoid any fixture or installation that calls for drilling additional holes in the ceiling.

You can also keep attic temps below freezing when the outside air is in the 20s or lower as this will prevent ice dams from occurring. Provide ventilation to keep channeling cold air into the attic, replacing the warm air. Your local water removal and restoration company can also help you find additional methods to avoid ice dam problems.

Of course there are things you shouldn’t do as well, such as trying to chip away at an ice dam. This may inadvertently damage the shingles or flashing beneath. Do not install large mechanical devices or water heaters in the attic, as this can increase the temperature and contribute to the melting of ice on your roof (they also present a fire hazard). Do not use salt or calcium chloride to melt roof ice, since these are corrosive agents that may shorten the life of your gutters and flashings.

Keeping the gutters clean is another way of preventing ice dams, since clogged gutters can prevent water removal and cause it to back up and puddle, where it may cause serious damage if allowed to refreeze continually.

For help with damage caused be ice dams, consult your local water removal and restoration company.

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