Dam Ice – The Truth Behind Ice Dams and How To Eliminate Them – Stebnitz Builders Remodeling Contractor, Delavan, WI

This year is probably different, but in winters past, has your roof ever looked like this?

If so, you have some roofing issues that should be investigated right away to determine if there are larger problems occurring INSIDE the home.

The photo above is a great example of what is called “ice damming”. Ice damming occurs when the tempered air in an attic comes in contact with the roof and begins to melt the snow on it. As the water trickles slowly down the roof, it eventually refreezes and causes an ice dam where the water will take two paths – over the top to create the neat-looking icicles or back up the roof. While the first direction is sometimes impressive, the potential for the second direction is scary.

The diagram below shows the main culprit of ice damming – heat loss in to the attic due to poor insulation and a lack of air flow in to the attic space.

 

Ice dam diagram shows just how problematic poor insulation and venting can be to a roof system.

 

The main culprit to ice damming is the warm, tempered indoor air coming in to contact with the cold roof, causing the roof to heat up and melt some of the snow on the roof.

The key is to keep the warm tempered air out of the attic and away from the roof where the problems will occur. Attics like this are a perfect situation for this warm air/ cold roof contact to occur and problems to begin. Unfortunately, all to often this issue is seen with lake homes and cottages as they were usually not built for winter use and comfort. Many older lake homes are sorely lacking in insulation and ventilation. While the problems are less evident in the summer when more people are using their cottages, the problems are at their worst during the harsh winter months and usually are not noticed.

A lack of insulation depth on the attic floor, inadequate proper venting and insulation between the rafters as well as vents that are under-insulated all will allow tempered air to reach the cold roof and cause not only the thaw/ freeze cycle that creates ice damming on the roof, but also condensation on the ceiling of the attic.

 

The solution is to create a barrier between the roof system and the tempered air inside the house as well as adding proper ventilation along the eaves of the roof to eliminate the warm air/ cold air contact.

 

Other tricks that can help are wrapping all piping and vents with insulation to eliminate warm air from getting in to the attic. You can also add an attic tent – a zippered door that surrounds your attic drop ladder to gain a better seal and eliminate heat loss through that opening.

If your home is experiencing ice damming on top of your roof or condensation inside your attic, the end result could be water damage inside your home – or worse, mold growth due to regular moisture and an ever-present food source in the roof rafters and ceiling joists.

A quick inspection by a Stebnitz Builders professional can identify these issues and recommend the best way to eliminate the problems you may be having. If you’re in the greater Walworth County area, contact us for a free attic inspection today. (800) 410-8027.

Stebnitz Builders, Perfecting the Art of Listening.