What Causes Ice Dams and How to Prevent Them

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If you close your eyes and picture an idyllic house in the middle of winter, what do you see? Maybe a snow-covered roof? Maybe some sparkling icicles along the eaves?

Wait a minute, though—while those icicles might make for an eye-catching Instagram post, they’re actually an early warning sign of ice dams on your roof, and the bigger the icicles get, the more trouble they spell out.

Today we’re going to ask a few different questions, including: Why do ice dams form on the roof of your Grand Rapids, Holland, or Kalamazoo home, how can you remove ice dams from a roof, and what can you do to prevent them from forming in the first place?

What Causes Ice Dams?

Very simply, ice dams are caused by warm spots on your roof melting the bottom layer of snow. That water then runs down your roofline until it reaches shingles (or air) that are cold enough to freeze it, usually on your eaves. As more snow melts on your roof, more ice forms, creating a dam that prevents water from escaping. Standing water can then find its way under your shingles and create moisture damage as it leaks inside your house.

Warm spots on your roof are most often caused by a lack of attic insulation or air leaks which allow heat to escape from the living spaces in your home.

How to Get Rid of Ice Dams

Unfortunately, once they start to form, ice dam removal can be difficult. You’ll need to melt the ice or remove it to create pathways for water to run off your roof, but be careful of DIY ice dam remedies like sidewalk rock salt, which can damage your roof. It’s also never a good idea to use a ladder in the middle of winter and try to climb up on top of your roof.

If the ice dam is bad enough, it could be time to call in help from ice dam removal professionals, who often have to use powerful steam equipment to safely melt your roof or gutter ice dams. But a far better solution is to take action now and prevent ice dams from ever forming to begin with.

How to Prevent Ice Dams from Forming

The best way to prevent ice dams from forming is by upgrading your home’s insulation and air sealing to prevent heat and warm air from escaping your house and melting the snow on your roof.

By upgrading your attic insulation and air sealing, not only can you stop worrying about ice dams every winter, but your home will be more comfortable as well, and your heating bills will drop as your home will be able to retain its heat more effectively.

Schedule a Home Energy Audit with WMGB Today

Not sure whether the insulation in your home is actually the problem? That’s what home energy audits are for. At WMGB Home Improvement, our team of home performance experts has conducted a combined 6,000+ energy audits across the state of Michigan that help uncover the issues behind common homeowner complaints like indoor drafts, high energy bills, and yes, ice dams on your roof.

An energy audit consists of a thorough inspection and evaluation of your home, using both our auditors’ home performance expertise as well as advanced equipment like blower doors and infrared cameras. The experts at WMGB can pinpoint the exact areas where home improvement work is needed and recommend the most effective solutions to problems with your home.

Tired of dealing with ice dams every winter? Call us or contact us today and schedule an energy audit to get to the bottom of your ice dam issues.

Contact Us Today

WMGB Home Improvement is committed to making your home look its absolute best. To learn more about our home improvement products and services, give us a call at (616) 300-1516 or Contact Us online.
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