Large icicles hang from a snow-covered roof in Madison, WI, casting distinct shadows on the red brick wall below. The icicles vary in length and thickness, creating a striking natural display against the building's facade, a stark contrast to recent exterior renovations.

How to prevent ice dams

It snows in Wisconsin and it also rains in the winter and when that happens you run the risk of getting ice dams, So, you’re going to need to make sure your house is prepared so you don’t end up going through spring doing repair after repair.  This can easily happen in cold weather states like Wisconsin.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is an ice dam?

An ice dam happens when there is snow on a roof and there is some differential heating on the roof.  Usually the heat is coming from inside, and it melts the snow and the liquid runs down the roof toward the eve where there is no longer enough heat and then the water refreezes.

This leads to icicles coming off your roof, which  can cause a lot of damage.  This is not difficult to understand and so the explanation is pretty simple.

How does it happen?

Weil said there are two ways for the snow to melt, the first way being through heat loss from the house.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”transparent” up=”30″ up_style=”px” down=”0″ down_style=”px”][vc_separator type=”transparent” up=”35″ up_style=”px” down=”0″ down_style=”px”][vc_column_text]The temperature from the warm air inside your home is  around 70 degrees and it comes in contact with the roof deck which is obviously much colder. You can drive down your street in your neighborhood and look at snow covered roofs and some will have patches of roof showing and others will not.  When you see roof showing you will instantly know that warm air is escaping from inside that home. when the warm airs melts the snow the water will run down the roof and then freeze causing ice dams.

The second way is through letting heavy snow pile up on your roof.

The snow closer to the roof is going to be closer to the inside temperature because of the snow’s insulation. The only way to counteract this is to have more insulation in the attic.  Adding as much insulation you can afford is the best way to prevent ice dams.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”transparent” up=”35″ up_style=”px” down=”0″ down_style=”px”][vc_column_text]How can you fix the problem if you already have it?

There are a number of solutions that are really Band-Aids to an ice dam problem. It’s very common to see metal edging near the bottom two feet of the roof. The idea is that the snow will slide off, and often times it doesn’t. The metal can help but it’s not treating the problem.  Plus, you need the sun to help accelerate the process.  You can also ad a heating element to the bottom 2 feet of the roof near the gutters.  That will help but it’s not a permeant fix.

Make sure you home doesn’t have air leaks and make sure you have the proper insulation and keep an eye on your roof throughout the winter months.

Energy is relatively cheap so it is a hard sell to get people to air seal and insulate as an energy saving tool, but as a maintenance cost avoidance budget this is one place where you don’t have to pay for it with energy savings you can pay for it for avoiding ice dams.

If you have any questions you can always call the professionals at Exterior Renovations.  We’re happy to help.