It’s pretty common in Colorado to see large icicles forming on the eaves of a roof. If so, the homeowner is likely dealing with an issue that can cause the home a lot of costly problems—ice dams. These solid, heavy blocks of ice can be rough on roofing, siding, gutters, and even sidewalks and on people (if they crash to the ground).
Here’s why a homeowner should be concerned when they see ice dams form on the roof, and how to spot damage that needs to be addressed to keep a home safe and sound.
What are an Ice Dams?
Ice dams are large chunks of ice that form at the edge of roofing. They develop when your roof accumulates snow, sleet, and freezing rain during stormy weather.
This frozen precipitation can melt under the heat of the sun, as well as the heat rising through your attic. But when the temperatures drop, the moisture can refreeze, especially at the edge of the roof. The resulting ice dams that form can lead to serious problems that may require costly roof repairs.
In a well-insulated, secure roof with working gutters, snow and ice tend to melt and drain safely away from the home, ensuring its safety. But when a roof is aging, or already has problems with gutters or insulation, ice dams are more likely to form. Proper home roofing care can help to avoid ice dams altogether.
The Many Ways Ice Dams Can Damage Your Home
Take a look at the major issues that can arise because of ice dams and understand the need to prevent them.
One of the biggest concerns with ice dams is that they are a sure sign that moisture has nowhere to safely drain away atop your roof. So, snow, ice, sleet, and rain are all potentially sneaking into and behind a home’s wood structure.
That moisture can end up in the attic, behind your siding, and in the walls, where the moisture rots away your wood and weakens your home’s structural integrity. And this issue can go on for months undetected, until the homeowner ends up with huge repairs to make.
Damaged Roof Shingles
As ice hits the roof, melts, and refreezes, it can be rough on your roofing. Ice can wear away at your roof shingles, scraping away their protective granules and making them more susceptible to damage. If shingles are cracked, moisture can sneak in and cause the cracks to worsen.
Since the integrity of a homes roofing is essential to a structure that keeps it safe from moisture damage, heat loss, and exposure, damaged shingles should always be addressed promptly.
Mold and Mildew Growth
Since ice dams mean moisture is trapped on top of the roof and potentially leaking inside, you’re likely to experience the growth of mold and mildew. These growths love the excess moisture and humidity of a leaky home.
Mold and mildew can ruin fabrics, furniture, papers, and other stored items in an attic. And they can also make the home’s air unhealthy to breathe, promoting asthma and other breathing problems.
The Danger of Falling Icicles
When ice dams form at the edge of the roof, they may begin to melt during the daylight hours and then refreeze at night. This produces icicles—sometimes quite large ones. And eventually, those icicles will break.
There are a number of issues that can result, including broken glass furnishings, cracked concrete, and even injuries as family and guests walk beneath them.
Ice Dams can also cause serious damage to a home’s’ insulation. Remember, ice dams mean that a roof isn’t properly draining away moisture. Eventually, the water makes its way inside, and since insulation in the attic is usually exposed, it can be quickly ruined.
This means the home will need new insulation, which can be pricey. On top of that, this can cause higher utilities costs because the home isn’t energy-efficient. And the wet insulation can also breed mold and mildew.
Peeling Paint and Rot Damage
Excess moisture from ice dams not only affects the roof, but it affects the exterior paint coating as well. Exterior paint won’t last as long, peeling and blistering from too much exposure to moisture. Plus, nails are more likely to rust, and wood siding or window trim will be exposed to rot.
Ice dams form at the eaves, meaning they’re in or on top of the homes gutters too. This added weight can crush them, make them crack, or push them out of place. All of these issues mean the same thing in the end—the gutters won’t function as they should, resulting in even more moisture damage not just on the roof, but around the foundation of the house.
A Few Tips to Help Deal with Ice Dams
If you’re experiencing ice dams, remember that you still need to be gentle with your roof. Don’t apply salt or try to hack away at the ice. Instead, focus on preventing wood rot, heat loss and moisture leaks. Solutions include installing a water-resistant metal roof, ensuring proper ventilation by installing vents and sealing air leaks, and adding thick insulation to help your roof avoid the hot-cold, freeze-thaw cycles that promote ice dams.
If you having issues and need help with Ice Dams, or simply want learn more about the services provided by Home Grown Roofing and Contracting, check out the many other blog posts on our website, Schedule an appointment to get an assessment, or give us a call today at 303-997-3976.