The holidays are right around the corner, which means now’s the time to prepare should we end up experiencing a rough winter. One of the biggest headaches associated with home performance in the winter is that of ice dams, and Virginia isn’t exactly in the clear the way most of us would like to think it is.
Christmas lists and meal planning may be on your mind right now, but you owe it to yourself to do everything possible to keep ice dams at bay this winter, and the team at The Fifth Fuel is here to help.
What is an Ice Dam?
In simple terms, an ice dam is a buildup of ice that forms near the edge of a roof. It’s especially prominent on sloping roofs during the snowy season. One of the biggest questions that comes up regarding ice dams is how they’re formed, and surprisingly enough, it comes down to whether or not the attic is properly insulated and air sealed.
Many people don’t realize just how hot an attic can get—even in the winter. As warm, conditioned air from your living spaces floats up into the attic, it ends up getting trapped there and building up over time. When snow builds up, the hot air trapped inside your attic heats the roof and causes the snow to melt. The water then trickles down towards the edge of your home’s roof, where it refreezes and creates an ice dam.
It may not seem like a huge problem at face value, but once an ice dam is formed, it creates an impenetrable barrier at the roof’s edge. Water continues to melt further up, however, and eventually will pool on the roof since it can’t escape. This is where the problem begins, as pooling water can affect your roof’s structural integrity and cause severe damage to the home.
What’s the Fix?
Since ice dams occur as a result of too much hot air trapped in the attic, the solution to the problem can be found in air sealing and insulating the attic properly. This keeps hot air from escaping and hitting the roof, which is then heated and allows the snow to melt. When the home is sealed up tightly, the threat of ice dams disappears.