Avoiding Roof Ice Dams With Proper Attic Insulation

House roof with uneven snow melt and possible ice damming from Fiberlite

Uneven snow melt can signal Ice Damming

With severe storms and record snowfall amounts across much of the northern U.S. already this winter some homes may be in greater jeopardy where improper insulation leads to ice dams.

Ice dams occur when heavy snow buildup melts during the day and then refreezes when temperatures drop overnight. If this melt-freeze cycle continues for several days the condition can lead to water intrusion into the attic and home or even roof collapse in more extreme cases. One way to tell if ice damming is a potential problem: check your roof after a snow accumulation. If there are patches where some of the snow is melting faster, this is an indication of heat escaping from the roof and likely due to poor insulation.

Ice Dam on house with improper attic insulation

Severe Ice Damming

Prevention and awareness are the key to protecting a roof from ice damming. Many homeowners may not even be aware of the threat. These steps can help to minimize the risk:

  1. Always do a visual check of the roof after every snow storm to check for potential uneven snow melt as noted above, and gutter downspouts to verify that water is flowing as snow melts (not forming icicles as in the photo here.)
  2. Compare to neighboring homes with same geographic orientation to determine if similar snow accumulation on the roofs. House with properly sealed and insulated attics will have more and more even snow accumulation vs. dry patches indicating risk of ice damming.
  3. Regularly clean all gutters and downspouts thoroughly – at least every few months to ensure properly flow.
  4. Remove snow from the roof whenever possible. Home improvement stores typically stock snow rakes with longer handles designed for this purpose. It’s work but worth it to help avoid dams and roof failure from the weight that can build up with heavy wet snow.
  5. Check attic insulation to make sure it meets the R-Value for the geographic region and add or upgrade as needed. Cellulose insulation is one of the best products available for adding insulation to the attic. A properly insulated and vented attic minimizes the risk of ice dams, and provides a more comfortable living environment within the home while also lowering monthly energy bills year-round.

Contact us for more information on ice damming and referrals for qualified cellulose insulation contractors.

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