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Ice Dams: What Are They and Why They Matter

Posted by Northface Construction  - Owner & Founder

*thumbnail courtesy of dmcroof*

Hotdish. Passive aggressiveness. Ice dams.

If you live in Minnesota, then odds are you’ve encountered all three of these things before. The first two can easily be dealt with (especially if it’s a tasty hotdish), but ice dams, on the other hand, are a more troubling nuisance.

If you’re fortunate enough to have never had to deal with an ice dam on your home, then you might not know just how damaging these frozen blockages can be. If you have had an ice dam on your home before, then you are well aware of the potential harm they can cause.

Today, we’re going to break down what exactly an ice dam is, the issues they can cause, and how to get rid of them.

Hot and Cold: How Ice Dams Form

The way ice dams form is actually quite interesting. Many people assume that it’s simply caused by snow on your roof freezing. What actually happens is the lack of proper ventilation causes snow near the top of your roof to melt (heat rises). Once the snow melts, it moves down your roof until it reaches a point where the roof is below 32 degrees. Then, it refreezes.

ice dams
Courtesy of State Farm

That might not sound like a big deal, as you’ve likely have seen icicles on your roof which eventually melt and your roof ends up being fine. However, where the trouble arises is from other snow that melts near the top of your roof. Eventually, if the ice dam gets too backed up, the melted snow will stay melted because it can’t reach that freezing point. Then, you’ll have a giant puddle of water sitting on your roof.

Any time you have standing water on your roof is a major problem. Even a new roof is susceptible to letting standing water through cracks and into your home. Water damage can lead to some serious issues and costly repairs. If you notice you have an ice dam forming, take the proper steps to get rid of it before the water has a chance to build-up.

How to Get Rid of Ice Dams

There is really only one true way to get rid of ice dams, and that’s using a low-pressure steamer. Any credible or trust-worthy roofer will use a steamer as opposed to hot pressure washers, or any other technique for that matter.

Washers can actually damage your shingles quite severely. So while they may get rid of the ice dam, you’ll have to repair your damaged roof.

How to Avoid Ice Dams Altogether

As previously mentioned, ice dams are caused by lack of ventilation in your attic. So one way to stop ice dams from forming is to improve that ventilation. You can suck out the insulation in your attic and then use spray foam as an alternative. This is a relatively simple process but can be costly.

However, a more cost-effective alternative is to get yourself a roof rake to get rid of snow buildup at the edge your roof. It is important that you don’t use a regular rake, which will end up causing severe harm to your shingles.

Instead, invest in a good roof rake and make sure you are diligent about keeping the edge of your roof clear. You’ll be glad you did.

Contact Northface Construction Today for Your Roofing Needs

If you do find yourself in need of some assistance with getting rid of an ice dam that has formed, then call Northface Construction today. We use the steam method when it comes to freeing up homes from ice. Not only will we get rid of any ice, but we are also your solution for making any repairs that need to happen from the heavy weight on your roof.

Give us a call today at (763)332-6290 if you need help making sure that your home stays safe during the winter. You can also fill out this brief form for a free estimate. We’re looking forward to hearing from you and helping your home survive the winter!

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