Icicles glistening in a stream of winter sunlight look like they're straight out of a fairy tale -- except they're the villain of the story. When large icicles form on the edge of your roof, these are known as ice dams. While they may look pretty on the outside, they're causing damage to your roof and may eventually lead to leaks and substantial damage. Here's a closer look at these evil winter villains and how you can get rid of them.
What causes ice dams?
When heat escapes from your roof, it causes any snow on your roof to melt. That melted snow trickles down the sloped roof, and when it reaches the edge of the roof -- which is typically cooler than the areas closer to the peak -- it re-freezes. This melting and refreezing continues, and the ice dam grows larger and larger.
The major cause of ice dams is heat escaping through the roof. This happens when your attic is not properly insulated. A well-insulated attic prevents enough heat from escaping to melt the snow.
How do ice dams cause damage?
Water expands as it freezes. If a little bit of water works its way beneath the shingles as the ice dam is forming -- and then it freezes -- it will pry that shingle away from the roof. Over time, this problem builds and builds, until the shingles are substantially loosened. Then, water can come into contact with the wooden underlayment of the roof. Here, it causes rot and mold to form. If enough water gets through, it may actually leak into your home. Or, you may suffer leaks later in the season when rain falls on your roof and the loose shingles no longer offer protection.
Ice dams can also pry your gutters away from the roof or cause them to bend. Then, they're not as effective at draining water, and water builds up on your roof, making leaks worse.
How can you prevent ice dams?
If you're seeing ice dams on your roof right now, there's not much you can do about them but let them melt. You can prevent them from growing any larger by using a snow rake to clear any remaining snow from your roof before it has the chance to melt. You will want to have a roofing contractor come out in the spring to repair any damage the evil ice dams have done to your roof.
To prevent future ice dams from forming, add another layer of insulation to your attic. This handy online calculator can tell you how much you need based on your location.
Don't let the glistening icicles fool you. They're a wolf in sheep's clothing -- and it's you need to be rid of them in order to keep your house in good shape. Click for more information here.