With winters like many of us have been experiencing these past few years, it is not uncommon for the weather to take its toll on our homes. One of the more common problems that can occur after a snow fall is the development of ice dams. Ice dams are build-ups of ice and the formation of icicles on the base, eaves and other areas of a roof.
While ice dams and icicles may be pretty to look at, they can wreak havoc on homes, causing water damage in attics, sidewalls and ceilings.
What Causes Ice Dams?
Ice dams are formed when heat from the inside of a home escapes into the attic and warms the roof decking. This heat, combined with heat from the sun, can melt snow on the roof. Snow then melts at the upper roof and in the valleys, then runs down toward the eaves as water. When it reaches the cold eaves and gutters it refreezes. The continual thaw and re-freeze process creates ice dams. The result is water backing up under the roof shingles or behind fascia boards where it can soak through the roof decking or wall sheathing, causing damage to ceilings and walls.
Ice Dam Defense
There ore three ways to defend against damage that can be caused by ice dams: insulation, ventilation and waterproofing shingle underlayment. All are interrelated. Insulation keeps heat from escaping from your home's living space into your attic. Ventilation removes the heat and helps keep the roof deck evenly cool to help prevent snow from melting on the roof. Lastly, waterproofing shingle underlayment, such as
Winter Guard", which is an asphalt sheet that is laid before roof shingles are applied, protects the interior against leaks from dams that do form on the roof.
With existing homes, waterproofing shingle underlayment is not an option unless you will be removing the existing shingles or are building an addition. However, increasing the insulation R-value in the attic is always possible and ventilation can easily be added to your attic.
- Owens Corning
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