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What Are Ice Dams and Why Should a Homeowner Be Concerned If Ice Dams Develop?

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What Are Ice Dams and Why Should a Homeowner Be Concerned If Ice Dams Develop?

In winter, ice can build up and accumulate along the edges of your roof. While it looks beautiful and reminiscent of icing on a gingerbread house, it’s actually cause for concern. In fact, the ice dams can be very dangerous and damaging.

How Ice Dams Form

It snows, it piles up on your roof, the snow melts and then it refreezes into a layer of ice near the gutters. The more this happens in winter, the bigger the ice dams become. They can drip down in long icicles over the edges of the gutters. The ice itself can become so heavy that it separates gutters from the roof, ruins soffits, and shoves shingles in many directions. If you don’t remove the ice, it continues to build and continues to cause damage.

What Ice Dams Do When They Begin to Melt

After the ice dams have accumulated and done the damage to your shingles, gutters, etc., then they begin to melt. As they melt, the water looks for the path of least resistance. That path is usually underneath the damaged shingles. Once the melted ice gets into these areas, it begins to rot your roof into pulp and then seep into your attic and walls. If you don’t catch it and repair it before it destroys your ceilings or walls, you will have a bigger expense cleaning up and repairing all of that water damage.

How Ice Dams Are Dangerous

Ice dams are dangerous to living things and houses. They can become extremely heavy if left to grow and hang. If they break off in chunks and land on you (or another living creature), you can be severely injured. The weight they gather on your roof can cause structural damage that requires a lot more work to restore. If the ice dams cause enough water damage and weigh heavily on water damaged areas, they can cause the roof to cave in over you. 

Prevention

You can use rock salt to prevent ice from accumulating. You can also use special heating coils on your roof that your roofing contractor can install. Pulling snow off your roof before it has a chance to melt and re-freeze is also a good approach to preventing ice dams.