Ice Dams: Rochester NY’s Hidden Cause of Leaky Roofs and Dangerous Icicles
How to get rid of an ice dam depends on the circumstances of each roof. If a recent ice storm caused a one-off ice dam to form, simple manual removal of the ice should suffice if your roof was otherwise draining correctly and with uniform heat dissipation prior to this rare weather event.
In these instances, the experienced technicians of Roofing Rochester NY employ the usage of a hot water pressure washer to melt the ice, and then we remove the snow. It is a quick process that immediately solves the problem, thus protecting your home and restoring proper drainage of your rooftop during the critical winter months when risk of damage is most likely to occur. However, if ice dams are a routine and persistent formation on your roofing system each winter in Rochester NY, it’s time to treat and prevent the underlying issues causing the ice dam!
However, if ice dams are a routine and persistent formation on your roofing system each winter in Rochester NY, it’s time to treat and prevent the underlying issues causing the ice dam!
Ice Dam on your Roof in Rochester, New York? Every Minute Counts when there's Standing Water on a Rooftop. Call the Contractors at Roofing Rochester NY Today at 585-727-8619 for a Fast and Free Estimate!
“How Do I Know if I Have an Ice Dam on My Roof?”
While icicles appear visually beautiful in the otherwise desolate winter months of Rochester NY, they are a telltale indicator of ice dams on your roof. A healthy roof with no ice dam formation will be uniform with snow to the edge, with no melted spotting on the roof, no dangling icicles, and no mounds of snow and ice toward the lower part of the roof.
How To Get Rid of Ice Dams on Your Roof
While there are many quick fix remedies for physically removing an ice dam in a single instance, the problem will certainly occur again without a permanent fix for the root causes. Roofing Rochester NY are the ice dam removal, treatment, and prevention experts in Upstate NY. Depending on your roof and your home, our ice dam game plan usually consists of some of the following remedial options to prevent ice dams from damaging your home:
Eaves and Ridge Ventilation to Prevent Ice DamsOne of the best ways to stop ice dams from forming is to install or repair any defects in the continuous eave and ridge ventilation or soffit and ridge ventilation systems. The insulation and air barrier must be continuous, or else ice dam problems can occur. A proper ridge vent in conjunction with continuous soffit venting will effectively circulate the cold air underneath the whole roofing system. It’s important to note that ridge and soffit ventilation will optimally employ the exact same size openings to effectively create a minimum of 1 square foot of opening to every 300 square feet of the attic flooring. We ensure that the placement of baffles are at the actual eaves to firmly establish the clearest pathway for airflow introduced from these critically important soffit vents.
Attic Hatch Capping to Mitigate Ice Dam FormationAttics are the main failure point of warm air escaping the livable area below up into the attic. Effectively capping the attic hatch is a critical piece of preventing warm air crossover into the attic, which results in meltwater on the roof, which ultimately causes ice dam formation. A similar issue can arise if your home contains a whole-house fan that is not effectively sealed. The best way to cap these hatches is to employ a weatherstripped cap made out of foam board (foil-surfaced), which is often constructed with aluminum tape to join its seams.
Proper Exhaust of Ducts is good Ice Dam PreventionLaundry rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms all have vents that remove warm air from the occupied floors of a home. It’s critically important that this is done through the proper channels and out through the roof or walls -- not through the soffit. Warm air improperly exhausted can result in melting of water on the roof, which leads directly to ice dam formation on your roof.
Installation of Updated Ceiling Light Fixtures can Stop Ice Dam FormationIf your home has recessed lighting, this might be the culprit of heat being dissipated into the attic and contributing to ice dam formation. These outdated light fixtures are unsafe when insulation is piled atop them, and so they are usually left bare on the attic side, radiating heat upward. The remedy to this ice dam cause is to update these light fixtures to IC recessed light fixtures, which are Insulation Contact-rated, meaning insulation can be in direct contact with them on the all-important topside. Oftentimes these updated light fixtures use more energy-efficient bulbs than the older style cans your home may have. So it’s a win-win to replace these and save money on utilities while at the same time keeping your roofing system free of ice dams.
Addition of Insulation in the Attic to Remove this from the Causes of Ice DamsOver time, insulation degrades, collapses, and generally loses efficacy to a degree, depending on your home and climate. The addition of more insulation on the floor of the attic achieves the same thing as above: it keeps heat down below, which prevents ice dams, while at the same time creating a more energy efficient home for you so that your energy costs go down. Chimney Flashing to Stop Ice Dam Formation: Chimneys are yet another spot for potential heat loss, which contributes to ice dam formation. If there are any gaps between the house frame and chimney, this can be solved by installing (or reinstalling degraded materials) an L-shaped flashing made of steel. This would optimally be secured with uninterrupted fire-stop sealant for the duration of the material. Obviously a chimney entails fire -- therefore, it’s unsafe (and ineffective toward preventing ice dams) to use half measures such as spray foam or regular insulation to try to achieve this same seal.
Caulking of Trouble Spots for Effective Ice Dam PreventionMany ventilation pipes and electrical cables exit the home at multiple locations on or around the roof; it can’t be helped. What can be addressed is the seal around these exit points. Effectively caulking these penetrations of air and moisture goes a long way toward removing potential causes of ice dam formation. Again we would want to use a fire-stop sealant to achieve this. In addition, the attic floor could be inspected for any light that may be shining upward into the attic from the floors below. Discolored insulation may also be indicative of an unwanted airflow problem that needs to be solved to rule out its possible contribution to the formation of an ice dam on the roof.
Duct Insulation to Reduce Ice Dam EffectsAir ducts carry warm air throughout your home and often pass through areas where warm air could escape and make its way into the attic and/or roofing system. The result of this is snow and ice melting from the roof surface and making its way down to where it becomes a dangerous and damaging ice dam. The best way to solve this issue and at the same time create a more energy efficient home (by preventing unnecessary warm air loss). Fiber-reinforced mastic along all of the junction points of HVAC ducting throughout the home (including all exhaust ducts) will go a long way toward achieving this goal of efficiency. After effectively sealing these air ducts, the entire duct system should be wrapped thoroughly with R-6 or R-5 fiberglass that is specifically foil-faced.
Ice Dams are Damaging and Dangerous. Roofing Rochester NY is Standing By at 585-727-8619 to Quickly Mobilize to your Home and High Pressure Wash the Ice Dam Away!
“What Are the Potential Damages of Ice Dams to My Roof and Home?”
While it’s hard to believe a simple patch of ice dam can cause so much damage to your roof, underlayment, interior roof, insulation, and potentially the interior of your home — these long-lasting damages can occur after even a single prolonged ice dam on a previously healthy roof:
Gutter Separation from Roof due to Ice DamThe most dangerous risk caused by an ice dam on the roof of your home is the potential for a massive ice dam to stress the gutters and cause them to physically detach from your roof, posing a danger to persons, pets, and property (such as automobiles) below. While gutters themselves are not the heaviest of materials, the ice chunks from the ice dam that will fall along with it can be absolutely devastating; sometimes exceeding weights of 100 lbs. With dangers such as this, insurance considerations and possibly damage claims come into play, and that is always something best avoided before it ever happens, which makes ice dam mitigation, prevention, and quick remediation is a high priority in any freezing climate.
Shingles Lifting on the Roof as a result of Ice DamsDue to the stress from weight of an ice dam, in addition to the standing water that gets dammed above it on the roofing system, compounded by potential warping and softening of the materials below the shingles -- loosened shingles are an inevitable byproduct of ice dams on the roof. This threatens the long-term integrity of the entire roofing system long after the ice melts or is removed from the roof.
Water Penetration Through the Roof Into the Home due to Ice DamsWhen water is standing for long periods of time on a rooftop, such as when an ice dam occurs, the water has nowhere to go other than down, through the roof if given enough time to permeate the materials and soak through. When this happens, dripping will transpire inside the roof and down onto attic floors and essentially the top side of ceilings in your home’s interior. This problem caused by ice dams can lead to many dangers detailed below.
Mold & Mildew Formation Inside the Roof and Home Interior as a result of Ice Dams on a RoofAs described above, an ice dam can cause water to penetrate all the way through a roofing system and into interior ceilings and walls. This moisture can be detrimental to not only the materials they come into contact with, but to the health of your home’s inhabitants. Mold & Mildew are a common byproduct of water, moisture, and condensation caused by ice dams. These serious health hazards can be dangerous in the short-term, and completely debilitating to the respiratory system of you or your family if exposed to them long-term.
Water Damage to Interior and Exterior Walls caused by Ice DamsIn addition to health and materials issues caused by water penetration on your roofing system as a result of ice dams, paint and primer can be ruined when the drywall beneath it is saturated with water. Permanent discoloration that can’t be covered up again by normal paints and primers can occur with even low levels of moisture introduced to drywall and ceiling materials. All of this is in addition to the safety hazard of water potentially coming into contact with any electrical wires that are routinely found within the same walls and above ceilings directly beneath where ice dams can form. As you can see, a simple block of ice in the form of an ice dam can potentially lead to thousands upon thousands of dollars of home renovations if left unchecked.
Exterior Paint Deterioration as a result of Ice Dam formationFor as much damage that ice dams can cause to the inner sides of a roof and home interior, the same can be said for the exterior of a home. Prolonged exposure to water which can continually run and drip over and from an ice dam can commonly find its way down the exterior of the home, leading to long-term discoloration of the spots exposed to water compared to the other areas of the home. Trying to match this discolored spot to the rest of the home come springtime rarely works out as easily as one might think, and oftentimes the only recourse is to repaint the home exterior to fully erase the damage from the ice dam.