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Rule Your Attic: Prevent Ice Dams
January 19, 2018
It’s already been a snowy winter here in New York and Connecticut, and chances are we’re in for a lot more snow and ice before spring arrives. How has your roof fared so far this winter? If ice dams and icicles have already been a nuisance for you this season, it’s likely a sign that your attic needs some attention. Now is a good time to improve your attic with air sealing and insulation, which will prevent ice dams and protect your home from potential damage caused by snow and ice.
How Do Ice Dams Form?
The key to preventing ice dams before they start is understanding how they form in the first place. Though many northern Westchester and Putnam County homeowners believe that ice dams are a roofing problem, ice dams are actually a sign of poor insulation in the attic. When the attic is poorly insulated, indoor heat rises and accumulates there, causing temperatures to rise on the roof’s surface. This, in turn, causes accumulated snow and ice to melt and flow down the roof. Once that water reaches the edge where it is cooler, it refreezes. Ice accumulates over time, causing ice dams and heavy icicles to form along the edge of the roof.
The Dangers of Ice Dams
As you can imagine, ice dams and icicles can do significant damage along the edge of your roof, even tearing down your gutters. But that isn’t the only type of damage they can cause. Ice dams are so-named because they prevent melted snow and ice from flowing off of the roof. Water pools up and seeps through roofing materials, directly into the home. This causes damage to roof decking, rafters, wall framing, and more. Water may even infiltrate wall cavities, causing paint to peel and insulation to lose its effectiveness. Then there are health hazards to consider. Indoor water damage can lead to mold growth, exacerbating respiratory illnesses like asthma and allergies.
Prevent Ice Dams with Air Sealing & Insulation
Clearly, there are a number of reasons to prevent ice dams from forming on your roof. Proper ice dam prevention starts in the attic with air sealing and insulation. Air sealing keeps heated indoor air from rising into the attic, while insulation slows heat transfer from conditioned spaces below. Together, they prevent heat from accumulating in the attic. No heat in the attic, no ice dams — it’s just that simple! An energy audit can reveal just how much air sealing and insulation your attic needs.