The water captured behind an ice dam is capable of harming your home if it leaks through the shingles and seeps beneath the roof decking. Though the amount of water entering your home at any given time may be small, its presence can go unnoticed for a long time. That means that water trapped by ice dams will have plenty of time to saturate all the materials that lie in its path, including the roofing felt, decking, joists, studs, drywall, and insulation.
Should water remain in these areas for long, it will weaken and cause rotting or disintegration of materials. This could leave yourself with extensive repairs or even serious structural damage that could require major renovations.
How Can Ice Dams Be Prevented?
Some homeowners attempt to prevent ice dams from forming by installing heat tape along the edge of the roof. Heat tape consists of an electrically-resistant wire that warms up when plugged into an outlet. It is relatively easy to install but is expensive to use and has been known to cause fires. As such, its use shouldn't be considered a permanent solution to the ice dam problem.
Since ice dams occur because rooftop temperatures rise above the freezing mark, the key to stopping ice dams from forming in the first place is to lower rooftop temperatures. There are several specific strategies that you can implement to accomplish this task, including the two options below.
One means of keeping rooftop temperatures lower is to install additional insulation inside the attic. Insulation added to the attic floor can keep heat inside the home's living area. As a result, heat won't be able to rise into the attic and warm the roof. As an alternative to adding insulation to the attic floor, you can attach foam board insulation to the roof joists in the attic. This will form a barrier between heated air in the attic and the underside of the roof, thus keeping the rooftop cooler.
Another means of reducing rooftop temperatures is to increase attic ventilation by installing soffits. Soffits, which are vents that lie beneath the eaves, permit air to enter and flow upward along the underside of the roof. The freezing air will chill the roof as it flows past.
Soffits need to be coupled with ridge vents to make air movement possible, as the ridge vents will serve as exits for the rising air. This increase in ventilation should go a long way in keeping the roof surfaces colder and preventing snow from melting.
If you have any questions about your roof, including how to handle ice dams or other potentially damaging winter issues, be sure to contact Al's Roofing Supply for help. We can provide you with assistance regarding roofing tools, supplies, and components.