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Tips To Prevent Ice Dams on Your Roof

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Tips To Prevent Ice Dams on Your Roof

During wintry days, ice dams are one of the major concerns you should look out for. We all know that spring storms are notorious for damaging roofs, but winters can also be hard on the roof. Fortunately, some tips and ways can help you prevent ice dams on your roof. Of course, Los Angeles home inspections can give you a better picture of this issue. At the same time, you can also follow the tips discussed in this article for preventing ice dams on your roof. Let us first discuss what ice dams are. 

What Is an Ice Dam?

Ice dams form when the snow melts, runs down your roof and then refreezes close to the edge. This only happens when the edge of your roof is below freezing, and a portion of it gets to over 32 degrees F, which is warm enough to melt the snow. A heated attic is frequently to blame for this situation.

The attic in most houses loses heat through the ceilings, warming the wood and shingles directly above it. Snow melts over the heated roof area even though the outside temperature is below freezing. It freezes when the roof’s melting snow contacts the frigid edge that the attic hasn’t warmed. It freezes there, forming an ice rim. If this rim thickens and begins to hold additional water behind it, an ice dam will eventually form.

Your roof eventually develops leaks as a result of the water seeping into the soffits, walls, and ceilings. The accumulated water finds its way back beneath the shingles because it has nowhere else to go. The first sign of ice dams may be rust marks on drywall fasteners. Additionally, you might see stains near windows and doors, sagging sheetrock, or peeling paint. It might even cause rot or mold; eventually, you will need to hire a home inspector in Los Angeles, CA, to have a professional view.

How to Prevent Ice Dams?

The only thing you need to do to avoid ice dams is to keep your attic and roof cold. A frigid top will have a heavy layer of snow covering it after a snowstorm. However, a warmer roof will soon have clear areas where the snow has melted off, and it might even have icicles hanging from the eaves. Follow these three ways to keep your roof cold:

Close up Attic Bypasses

About one-third of the heat loss in a standard house is via the ceiling, which travels into the attic. And the majority of the loss is due to air leaks brought on by unblocked walls, holes in the drywall, and cracks near light fixtures, access hatches, pipes, chimneys, and other ceiling penetrations.

It can be challenging to stop air leaks. Some air leaks are challenging to locate due to low roof slopes. You must ascend to your attic, remove insulation by raking or pulling it back and seal any leaks with foam, caulk, or other materials. It would be best if you did this in cooler weather; otherwise, the heat in your attic would be intolerable. To minimize skin irritations brought on by insulation, always wear a long-sleeved shirt, dust mask, and long pants.

Plus, you’ll conserve energy and pay less for heating and cooling by preventing air leakage from lessening ice dams.

Measure Your Attic Insulation Level

Check the depth of your attic insulation while you’re up there. Increase the R-value of the insulation in the attic to roughly R-40. Building requirements require a minimum of 12 to 14 inches of fiberglass or cellulose. Add more if you have fewer than eight inches and previously experienced ice dam issues.

Compared to hand-placed batts, blown-in cellulose and fiberglass typically perform better because they fill in gaps around rafters, joists, and other impediments more thoroughly. For this task, it is usually worthwhile to hire a professional; doing it yourself will probably not save you any money. However, you can rent a blowing machine from a rental yard or home improvement store if you don’t have a good deal with the professional. With the purchase of insulation, the device is often free to use.

Add Roof and Soffit Vents

Attic ventilation cools the attic and the roof by drawing in cold external air and flushing warmer attic air. When half of the vent space is high on the roof, and half is low on the roof, the minimum ventilation area (size of the openings) should be around one square foot per 300 square feet of ceiling area (attic floor area).

It’s not easy to figure all of this out; you have to look at your current vents to locate the areas of each area marked on them. Generally, every other rafter space should have an 8-in. x 16-in. vent installed in the bottom of the overhang (soffit). Install a continuous 2-1/2-in.-wide “strip” vent if you’re rebuilding the soffit since it looks better. Likewise, the peak should have a continuous ridge vent installed.

Add the typical square-shaped roof vents close to the peak if your roof’s ridge is significantly shorter than the roof edge, as it is with pyramid-shaped roofs, for instance. Add enough such that the area of their ventilation is roughly equivalent to that of the soffit vents. Don’t worry, even if this provides a lot more ventilation than is necessary. It’s unlikely that you’ll have excessive ventilation.

Bullets To Remember

  • Some roof designs are challenging to vent, particularly those with angled ceilings and no attic, skylights, flat roof dormers, and low-slope roofs. You might have to use the alternative methods we outline in the following section.
  • Evaluating the venting on properties where old soffits were replaced with aluminum might be challenging. To inspect the venting, you might need to remove many metal panels if there is chronic ice damming in one spot.
  • Insulation, particularly blown-in insulation, can obstruct airflow. Typically you can avoid this issue with baffles. Add them first if you don’t already have them before adding more insulation. Make sure the openings between the rafters over the outside walls are open. Soffit vents that are blocked can be opened with a blast of air from an outside compressor hose.

What To Do if You Already Have an Ice Dam

Ice dams themselves are not always an issue. Leaks cause the majority of the damage. You might not need to take action if you can’t find any indication of ice dam leaks, whether in the attic, ceilings, or soffits on the outside. Call a home inspector in Los Angeles, CA, to check further. Also, you may apply the preventative measures we outlined when it gets warmer.

The most straightforward technique to remove an ice dam if you have leakage from one and cannot take the snow off the roof is to call a roofing company to steam it off. Similar to a pressure washer, a steamer uses hot water to aid in the clearing of ice dams. It removes the ice without endangering the roof. The shingles can be damaged when you break the ice with a hatchet or ice pick.

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