Ice Dam Prevention
Things you can do to prevent Ice Dams from forming on your home
We described how to prevent ice damage to your home once an ice dam has formed. Perhaps a better question is what steps to take for ice dam prevention in the first place. There are many things you can do to help with ice dam prevention.
Here are specific strategies for minimizing the likelihood of ice dams on your home:
- Have the snow removed from your roof, in particular if you start to see icicles forming. The cost of doing this work a few times a winter pales in comparison to the cost of dealing with water damage.
- Check the attic or rafter space for adequate insulation. One of our qualified insulation contractors can provide this service for you. Just call for an appointment. Proper insulation is a major ally in ice dam prevention.
- Make certain your roof system has good ventilation for appropriate ice dam prevention. Proper ventilation will allow for the movement of air through the roof system (i.e., the attic and rafter spaces). This reduces the amount of warm air that builds up in the attic or rafter spaces and thus reduces the melting snow that causes ice dams.
- Make sure all penetrations through your ceiling are sealed and insulated. Bath fans, plumbing vents and recessed ceiling cans are some of the biggest culprits in allowing warm air to get into the attic. If you were to pressurize your home with hot air, imagine all of the areas that air would want to escape into the attic. For optimal ice dam prevention, seal and insulate them all.
- Add heat tape to the lower few feet of roof in areas where ice dams keep occurring from year to year. It’s best to address insulation and ventilation before making this move because no amount of heat tape will compensate for poor ice dam prevention in those categories. Also, be warned that heat cables can on occasion cause a tremendous backflow of water into your home if they are not installed or used properly.
- If you have recessed lighting “cans” in your ceiling below an unheated space such as an attic or a truss cavity, try to minimize their use. Likewise, avoid turning on your any recessed lights in the exterior soffits of your home. Recessed lights generate a tremendous amount of heat and are seldom insulated and sealed properly. The net result is heat escaping into spaces where heat should not be during the winter. Additionally, replacing heat-casting spotlights with florescent or LED spotlights is good ice dam prevention.
- If you have rooms with vaulted ceilings try to keep them a bit cooler than the rest of the home if possible, in particular if these spaces are seldom used. The easiest ice dam prevention technique is to shut off the heating supplies and returns, if you have a forced air system.