November 20, 2021
How Ice Dams Can Affect Your Wisconsin Home
Wisconsin has always had its share of blizzards, ice storms, and freezing rain. The Old Farmer's Almanac says that this year, one of the coldest winters in years is coming to Wisconsin. The number of ice dams on roofs are expected to increase which can cause significant damage if they form under your roof! And if your home is in an area where they are common, it's important to be aware of their roof-damaging potential before winter arrives.
What Is an Ice Dam?
An ice dam is a buildup of ice at the roof's edge that prevents melted snow from draining off the roof. It also causes water to back up and leak into attics, walls, and crawl spaces. When you see black or brown streaks on your exterior walls, this is typically a sign that water has been seeping behind the walls and causing ice dams.
How Do Ice Dams Affect My Home?
If water pools behind the ice dam, it can seep into your home's framing and insulation, leading to costly damage. The water leakage itself presents risks for mold growth in walls and ceilings. An ice dam also prevents snowmelt from draining off, which can force roof collapses in addition to damages in attics and walls.
What Causes Ice Dams?
It can form on any roof, although homes with uninsulated or single-pane glass areas such as the attic and roof vents are most susceptible. Several factors can cause ice dams:
- Insufficient insulation and inadequate air sealing in attics and walls
- Poor ventilation
- Damp crawl spaces
- Improperly pitched roofs, especially with insufficient roof insulation.
- Poor attic or roof ventilation
- Air leaks into or out of the home through the unsealed wall and ceiling cavities, gaps around service pipes and chimneys, recessed lights, electrical outlets, cracks around window and door frames.
What Can I Do About Ice Dams?
The best course of action is to prevent it altogether by addressing the factors that contribute to their formation. Here are some tips for preventing ice dams:
- Seal cracks, gaps, and openings along exterior walls, roofs, and ceilings with caulk or expandable foam
- Increase insulation in attics
- Properly ventilate attics, so the heat stays in the house during cool winter months.
- Properly ventilate attic space to reduce moisture buildup.
- Increase insulation at roof lines and around service pipes and chimneys to prevent cold air from seeping into the home
- Install gable vents under roofs that are insulated with blown-in insulation, as these trap cold air and moisture
- Ensure proper roof ventilation – vents, fans, etc. – to remove moist outdoor air from the house
- Avoid roof repairs during extremely cold weather unless they are necessary.
- Install a de-icing wire or an ice barrier of plastic or aluminum below the edge of your roof to keep snow from piling up there
- Avoid venting the roof with attic fans during extreme cold spells.
Ice Dams and Your Wisconsin Home: Are You at Risk?
When you live in a place that gets adequate amounts of snow, your roof may build up ice dams. If this happens and it worries or inconveniences you, give us a call! BRH Enterprises will be glad to visit your home and inspect for ice dams to keep your family safe this winter. Contact us at BRH today for a Free roof Inspection and Estimate (920) 249-4228.