Ice Dam FAQs: Everything You Should Know

Ice Dams

If you live in more temperate areas of the Carolinas, you may not experience winter weather. However, many of our clients live in cities like Charlotte, NC and the mountains of western North Carolina, where wintertime happens in earnest every year. There are a lot of things to consider if you’re a homeowner in one of these regions. Ice dams are one such issue. Don’t worry if you’re unfamiliar with ice dams; this guide will help you understand what they are and what you can do to deal with them.

Ice dams are icy “walls” that form at the edge of a roofline. They effectively serve as dams that prevent snow and water from draining, ultimately resulting in serious leaks in many cases. Ice dams are able to occur on roofs that have uneven temperatures; the upper portions of the roof have to be above 32 degrees so that snow won’t freeze, and the lower portions must be below 32 degrees so that ice will remain frozen. Some popular FAQs regarding ice dams can be found below.

Why are different roof areas different temperatures?

There are actually several things that can lead to uneven roof surface temperatures. Anyone of these could result in the formation of an ice dam. The most common way heat reaches your roof is through your house. This usually happens via conduction, as warm air from the interior of your home passes through insulation and roofing materials; because the center of a roof is generally over the warmest part of a house, the edges, where ice dams form, tend to be the coldest roof sections.

Exhaust systems and chimneys can also both lead to uneven roof temperatures. Areas directly beside exhaust pipes and chimney flues are likely to be warmer than other parts of a roof. Again, these structures tend to be building toward the center of a home, again leaving roof edges susceptible to ice dams.

How can I stop ice dams from causing harm?

Fortunately, even if your roof does develop an ice dam, there are several things you can do to stop it from resulting in serious issues. The first thing you should do when you notice the ice dam is to remove as much snow from the roof as possible. Using a push-broom is the best way to do this if you want to minimize damage to your shingles or other roofing material. You may also need to break up the ice dam, creating channels for melting snow to flow through into your gutter system.

For the long-term, you’ll need to have a professional assess the heating situation in your home. There may be ways to, for instance, reroute exhaust fans or add extra attic insulation, to keep your roof temperature more consistent. You may also want to consider natural roof ventilation. This, again, is something you should discuss with a professional. Any reputable contractor who understands winterization will be able to assist you with correcting your ice dam situation.

The experts at Hatch Homes have been working with families who live in colder Carolina climates for years. If you would like us to assess your house and make sure it’s ready for this winter, and many winters to come, give us a call today. One of our specialists will be happy to meet with you soon.

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