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How Do Ice Dams Form and How To Prevent Them

In Aurora and all around Colorado, there’s one winter problem that looks beautiful but, at the same time, can cause significant damage to your home’s roof; ice dams. In this article, we’ll take a look at how ice dams form and, more importantly, how to prevent this destructive process from occurring in the first place.

What are Ice Dams, and How Do They Form?

Here in Aurora, CO, we get a lot of snow every winter. When it accumulates on your home’s roof, the heat from your attic can cause some of the snow to melt and run down to the roof’s edge. The water runoff then freezes into a rim of ice and icicles, something your Aurora roofing company refers to as an ice dam

The ice dam process begins when heat escapes from inside your home and makes its way into the attic.  There, it warms up the wood beams and joists that form your roof’s frame and, eventually, the shingles on the outside of your roof as well. While it might be freezing outside, the leaked attic heat warms your roof enough to melt some of the snow, and, voila, the next thing you know, you’ve got an ice dam and icicles hanging from your gutters. 

If your home’s heat leakage problem is severe, and there’s enough snow, this ice dam will trap even more water and become larger and larger, causing even more roof damage. At that point, you may have no choice but to call in an Aurora roofing company for gutter repair and other roofing services.

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Aurora Roofing Company

How To Prevent an Ice Dam from Forming

While pretty (who doesn’t love icicles?), an ice dam can severely damage your roof. Ice dams are also problematic to remove, which makes preventing them a prerogative. Did you know that, in most homes,  nearly 1/3 of heat lost goes through the ceiling and into your attic? It’s true. Gaps in your home’s drywall, as well as unblocked walls, cracks around pipes and fixtures, and various hatches, are the culprit. 

All of these small-ish problems create one large one; heat leaks. These leaks, while small, heat your attic and cause the ice dam problem. To prevent them, you need to stop your attic and roof from warming up enough to melt the snow in the first place. To do that, you need to go into the attic and plug the heat and air leaks.

Plugging the Heat Leaks In Your Attic

Climbing into your attic and moving massive amounts of insulation around is the most common way to prevent heat and air leaks. Once the insulation is moved, plugging the various leaks with caulk, foam, more insulation, and other strategies is next. It’s a process that sounds easy but takes time, effort, and more than a  little bit of luck to accomplish correctly. 

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Ice Dam

Add Insulation in your Attic to Further Prevent Heat Leaks

It’s not only heat and air leaks that warm up your attic and cause ice dams. Inadequate insulation can also be part of the problem, letting through heated air and increasing the roof’s temperature. That’s why, when you’re in your attic sealing air leaks, checking your insulation is crucial. 

An R-value of R-40 is highly recommended, along with 12 to 14 inches of cellulose or fiberglass insulation.  Most Aurora Roofing company experts will tell you that blown-in insulation is best. That way, the insulation will fill gaps around rafters and joists more tightly. 

Increase Attic Ventilation

One of the best ways to keep your attic cool and prevent ice dams is to bring cold air in from outside. To do that, you need ventilation, which means adding roof and soffit vents. Before you do, however, you need to know approximately how much ventilation area is necessary. The standard rule of thumb is to have 1 square foot of ventilation space for every 300 square feet of attic floor area. By the way, even if you have adequate ventilation, it’s imperative you ensure the vents aren’t blocked. Blocked vents are almost as bad as having no vents at all.

Keep Your Gutters Clean

One last tip today is to keep your gutters clean or have them cleaned before Aurora starts to see any snow.  Clogged gutters can be almost as problematic as hot attics when it comes to ice dams, so keeping your gutters free from debris is imperative.

Abut Pinnacle Roofing Associates

Based in Aurora, CO, Pinnacle Roofing Associates services the Denver Metro area, including Littleton,  Castle Rock, and Fort Collins, CO. Pinnacle specializes in roofing services as well as skylight installation,  gutter installation, construction management, drywall repair, painting services, window and screen repair,  and siding. Contact Pinnacle Roofing Associates today for all your roofing needs.

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Ice Damming