Homeowners across Central New York and Syracuse are very familiar with the site of ice dams during the cold wintery months. Ice dams are large ice bands above the edge of the gutter or roofline, usually overhanging with heavy icicles. Though familiar, some New York residents may not be aware of the hazards and risks associated with ice dams on their roofs.
So, what are the dangers of ice dams? There are several dangers relating to ice dams: personal safety risks and property damage. An ice dam's weight can pull down icicles, roof shingles, and gutters, risking people and pets' safety below. Ice dams also threaten interior and exterior property damage, specifically to the roofs, gutters, walls, attic spaces, insulation, and even foundations.
At CNY Roof Cleaners, we work to remove and prevent ice dams across Central New York. The dangers and damage that ice dams pose to your home and safety make it essential to prioritize ice dam prevention. However, we understand that busy schedules and work can make this task hard. We want people to understand the potential hazards of ice dams and the simple measures you can take to deal with existing ice dams and prevent ice dams.
What are the dangers of Ice Dams?
Ice dams create several hazards and dangers. Some of these are short-term, directly impacted by the ice dam on your roof, while others are long-term issues resulting from water damage and leaks. These dangers are also potentially harmful and costly, so removal, prevention, and maintenance are vital.
These are some examples of the dangers and risks posed by ice dam formations to your New York home:
The risk to personal safety caused by Ice dams
Severe ice dams formed on Central New York homes present a safety hazard for occupants, other people, and pets below. An increase in temperatures causes icicles to dislodge and fall to the ground causing severe injury and harm. The pressure on the gutters, downpipes, shingles, and facias under the ice dam's weight can also cause them to break and pull away, again causing a risk to anyone below.
New York homeowners also risk their safety employing preventative ice dam measures, working at heights and in wet and slippery conditions. We NEVER recommend working on your roof in icy conditions and recommend that all preventive and removal strategies are completed from the ground.
Exterior property and roof damage caused by Ice dams
Large ice dams can be extremely heavy, weighing hundreds of pounds, which jeopardize the structure of the roof's eaves, gutters, and mounted fascia boards. Gutters that bend or tear away from the roof prevent present and future water collection and flow, affecting the guttering system's health beyond winter.
Snowmelt from ice dams is also known to cause severe damage to a home's painting and wooden façade. Trapped water from the ice dams drives snowmelt under your roof shingle and rot wooden fascia boards, exposing water damage to the interior of your house.
While the weight of ice dams can cause significant damage to your roofing exterior, falling ice and torn facades can also cause damage to areas below, such as shrubs, garden beds, and windowsills.
Interior Property damage caused by Ice dams
More seriously, water damage and leaks caused by the melting snow soaks into the roof sheathing and insulation. This can advance internal conditions for ice dam formation and renders the insulation ineffective. Prolonged wetness and dampness cause mildew and rot of the roof sheathing.
Leaks caused by ice dams can enter through the ceiling drywall below and into your living space. Water leaks caused by ice dams are an expensive problem further worsened by the creation of mold and rot, detrimental to your health. Interior drywall, timber beams, painting, and insulation are all at risk from water damage and leaks resulting from ice dams.
How do ice dams form?
An ice dam begins to form when a warm attic heats the underside of snow on the upper roof, causing water to flow down and pool in the eave overhang. The roof's eaves remain cold as they extend beyond the house's side, so excess moisture build-up freezes. The ice and snow build-up feeds the ice dam, but water pools behind the dam stay liquid. The warmth of the attic and insulating snow layers continues to melt the snow and ice underside, creating visible ice mounds. The icicles form as water trickles down the eave of the roof.
Ice dams affect all types of roofs; tiled roofs, slated roofs, and even metal roofs. Typically, tiled or slated roofs with flatter pitches enable snow and ice to accumulate better and ice dams to grip. However, sloped roofs can also form ice dams, especially where roof valleys meet roof decks. Blocked gutters that build up with snow and ice can also provide the foundations for an ice dam.
Mostly, ice dams form when the underside of the roof deck inside the attic space is above the freezing point – average outside temperatures are below 32 degrees. In contrast, the upper roof surface temperature is above. Heavy snow and its insulating properties start or worsen ice dam formations due to snow's insulating properties. The snow layer on the roof further traps the warm air inside your roof and attic spaces, creating a cycle of melting and freezing.
Removing and Preventing Existing Ice Dams
Once an ice dam has formed, there are several things you can do to remove, deter and prevent the ice dams from further developing. Below are the most common ways of eliminating and preventing Ice dams:
Long-term Solutions to Prevent Ice dams
The underlying problem of roof dams revolves around roof leaks and poor insulation. Houses with good attic insulation and colder attic spaces are less likely to experience ice dams. To prevent ice dams, you must have optimal attic ventilation and attic insulation using a few other preventative strategies.
These long-term preventative strategies are best carried out in the spring and autumn months.
At CNY roof cleaners, we recommend to:
1. Seal any heat sources that would increase the roof attic temperatures immediately below the roof sheathing.
2. Insulate the ceiling and living spaces below the attic to prevent heat transfer through the ceiling.
3. Ensure ventilation under the roof deck, between the insulation and the roof sheathing, so heat is carried away.
4. Remove any debris or blockage's in your gutters to prevent water clogs and pooling.
5. Install a water-resistant sheath under any new roofing.
Snow and Ice Dam Professional Services
At CNY Roof cleaners, we offer affordable professional services across Syracuse to remove and prevent ice dams, including snow removal, ice dam removal, and attic insulation and ventilation. We also provide attic mold remediation if your attic has been exposed to moisture from improper ventilation or a resulting ice dam.
If you need a short-term solution to snow or require ice dam removal or prevention, we are fully insured, catering to residents across Central New York. At CNY Roof Cleaners, we use only the best ice dam removal methods and equipment and prioritize our workers' safety.
At CNY Roof cleaners, we also provide attic insulation services to prevent ice dam formation during winter. We are a veteran-owned service that offers quality inspections, including identifying any roof leaks, wood damage, rot, growth, bird, or pest activity. We professionally assess attic airflow, ventilation, moisture levels, and heat loss points in your roof and spaces. We firmly believe that the solution to ice dams is ensuring your living spaces and the attic is adequately ventilated.
If you are interested in one of our services, please get in contact with us today.