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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Understanding Ice Dams

7/20/2021 (Permalink)

Roof with ice dams in winter time. Avoid ice dams.

The aesthetic pleasure of sparkling snow and crystal ice can bring its share of challenges during a Hurricane, UT, winter. Unfortunately, the beautiful appearance of icicles on your roof may be a sign of wintery damage that if left alone could lead to a hefty spring cleaning of black mold.

What Is an Ice Dam?

As warm interior temperatures rise too high areas of the roof, snow can begin to melt and create a stream of meltwater to the lower roof and gutters. The lower level of the roof and the gutters that hang off the side of the building have little access to the warm air circulation inside. Thus, a dam can be created as the meltwater hits these frozen spaces and has nowhere to divert. There are a few common signs that a dam may be forming:

  • Large amounts of snow on the roof
  • Significant ice blockade on the edges of the roof, gutters, or soffits
  • Icicles
  • Water damage appearing on interior ceilings or walls

What Issues May Arise?

When a blockade of ice begins forming on the edges of the roof, melting snow has nowhere to drain. The warmer temperatures of the higher levels of the roof create meltwater that ends up draining into the interior structure of the building. Insulation, ceilings, and interior walls are often impacted, potentially creating water damage that can lead to mold growth.

Can It Be Prevented?

Prevention of an ice dam requires certain measures:

  • Adding insulation to ensure heat is kept away from the roof
  • Verifying there is proper ventilation in roof soffits and vents
  • Closing areas that may leak warm air upwards

Furthermore, maintaining clear gutters is vital to their ability to keep drainage flowing away from the roof and interior. If ice has begun forming on the edges of the building, heat tape can be used to melt it off.

Snow and ice may be inevitable in a Hurricane, UT, winter, but they needn’t be destructive. Prevent an ice dam in the winter to avoid a mold cleanup in the spring!

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