Ice Dam: What Should I Do?

Ice Dam Diagram

Ice Dam Diagram

Your roof is covered with snow and water is coming in your house. You can’t see any damage to your roof, so what’s causing your roof to leak? The likely culprit is an ice dam, but what are they and what do you do now?

What is an Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that builds up at the edge of the roof, sometimes blocking the gutters as well. This ice dam causes any water, whether from rain or melting snow and ice, to back up under the roof shingles. Once under the roof shingles, the water is able to enter the property, resulting in Water Damage in attics and living spaces.

Ice dams are best recognized as bulges of ice at the edges, or attached to the eaves or overhang of a roof. This ice may be covered with several inches of snow, making it difficult to see.

The most likely interior damage is ceiling damage and wet wall cavities. Insulation in walls may be wet, reducing it’s R-Value and allowing the moisture to wick from this wet insulation to other structural components. Until the ice dam is rectified, water is still able to enter the home, causing additional damages and potential Mold growth. This makes it incredibly important to resolve an ice dam as quickly as possible.

What should you do if you have an Ice Dam?

In the case of an ice dam, as with any Water situation, the first step should be to minimize damages. Unlike other water damage causes, such as pipe breaks, ice dams are not as easily remedied to prevent further water damage. As long as the ice dam exists, further water can enter the home.

Removing an ice dam yourself can be very dangerous, as it can be slippery and hard to gain adequate footing on a roof that is covered in snow and ice. Additionally, it is possible when removing snow and ice from a roof to damage the shingles themselves. Due to the danger both to the roof and personal injury, it is HIGHLY recommended that you contact a roofer that is able to remove the ice dam for you in the safest and most effective way possible, while limiting risk to the roof.

If you have had difficulty locating a roofer that is able to take care of the ice dam issue for you, your Water Mitigation Professional may be able to assist you in locating a roofer able to respond quickly.

What if the ice dam caused a roof leak?

Due to the nature of ice dams and where they generally form, it’s common for roof leaks to occur and for moisture to become trapped in ceiling and wall cavities. As this damage can often be hidden, it’s recommended to have a professional inspect your property to determine the extent of damage and to take the steps necessary to begin the drying and mitigation services. Leaks caused by ice dams can result in both seen and unseen damage, necessitating a trained professional such as Disaster Blaster, able to trace the moisture damage and properly dry the property. Failure to correctly mitigate a moisture issue can result in significant additional damages and even Mold Growth!

Should you have a water issue as a result of an ice dam or other cause, please don’t hesitate to contact your local Disaster Blaster office!

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Photo courtesy of Owens Corning ®