Ugly Side of Snow and Ice

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Most of us in the region woke up to a gorgeous, glistening blanket of snow.  Although we didn’t get much snow, maybe a couple of inches at most, this deceitfully beautiful snow was frosted with a sprinkling of freezing rain thus creating a big white sheet of ice.  I am reminded of the ugly side of snow and ice, the side that causes damage to our homes.

Last winter, we handled numerous service calls regarding homeowners who had water dripping down along their windows. Most of them could not figure out where the water was coming from.   Well, it was from ice dams.

What is an ice dam?  If your home does not have sufficient insulation and poor attic ventilation, heat loss can melt the snow on your roof from the underside.  Temperatures are colder at your roof’s edge, and as the melting snow drips down your roof to the colder edge, it forms a dam.  The dammed water then backs up under your roofing (the shingles) and when temperatures warm, the dams melt and water leaks into your home.

The best way to prevent ice dams is to take some steps to maintain a cold roof.  Yes, you want your roof to stay cold in the winter!

Generally, you are going to have heat loss from the ceilings just below your attic space.  Inspect your attic insulation, playing particular attention to those areas near outside walls.  Address those areas that need attention.

Having an open passage for cold air to flow into your attic helps keep attic temperatures consistent with outside temperatures.  This can be achieved by keeping soffit vents clear with the use of insulation baffles, also sometimes called rafter vents.

Baffles look like this:

and can be found at your local hardware store for under $2 each.

Heat loss can be found from gaps around pipes and electric cables that run through the top plates of the walls in the rooms below your attic.  Seal these areas using caulk or expanding foam from your local hardware store.   Don’t forget about the entrance to your attic.  Use weather-stripping at attic door, or insulate and weather-strip pull-down attic stairs to prevent heat loss.

Recessed lighting in your ceiling below your attic can also be a source of heat loss.  I suggest contacting a professional to assist in insulation around light fixtures to avoid fire hazards.  If you feel like your lighting may be a cause of heat loss to your attic, please contact us to assist you.

Keep attic vents clear.  If heat escapes from your living area to your attic, it will also escape through your attic vent before warming your roof and attic space.  The types of attic vents include attic fans, gable vents, ridge vents, roof turbines, and soffit vents.


Prevost Construction is available to assist you in maintaining your cold roof.

Remember, cold roof maintenance is less costly and stressful then repairing extensive water damage to your home caused by an ice dam.