Is your leak caused by an ice dam?

Posted to the A-Top Construction blog on: Friday, January 31st, 2014

We certainly don’t have to tell you it’s cold out, they’re calling it the Polar Vortex, we just call it really, really cold.  We are seeing some of the coldest temperatures on record the last few weeks and relief seems to still be several more weeks away.   We have to wonder at the NFL’s wisdom in picking New Jersey for it’s northern, outdoor game experiment.

At this time of year with these temperatures and snow conditions you can imagine a Monmouth county roofing company would be pretty quiet.  The phone continues to ring pretty frequently even in these frigid conditions.  When we add snow on top of these cold temperatures we have the potential for leaks caused by ice dams.

These types of issues are much more frequent in the Midwest and places like Minnesota where heavy snow and frigid temperatures are the norm.   An ice dam forms when you have snow on your roof and varying temperatures on your roof surfaces.  The upper sections of the roof warm up, melting the snow.  As the melting snow makes its way to your gutters it crosses over colder sections of the roof and refreezes.  This frozen snow melt forms ice that can force its way up under your shingles and underlayment.  When it melts again you get this water inside your home.  These leaks can cause a tremendous amount of damage.  These leaks can damage paint, wallpaper, and drywall on ceilings and walls.  This moisture can also get into wall cavities, any of these can lead to mold growth inside your home.

You have to ask, how can the temperatures vary on your roof?  What generally happens is the areas over your living space are heated, if this heat escapes it rises straight up and melts the snow above it.  When the water from this melted snow reaches an area that isn’t heated or has no heat escaping beneath it, the water refreezes.  These areas are generally overhangs above a soffit or over an unheated garage.

There are some things to consider to prevent ice dams from forming.  Insulation is critical, proper insulation will go a long way to keeping roof temperatures consistent.  Some areas to also keep an eye on for heat loss are through recessed lighting and around chimneys and plumbing vents.  Another key is ventilation.  Proper ventilation of attic areas will help to keep temperature on your roof in check.  The proper balance of air into and out of attic areas is crucial.  The use of baffles will also help to keep roof temperature uniform across all of it’s surfaces.  The baffles create a space between the insulation and the roof deck, this keeps the heat in and away from the roof.

Ice dams can lead to leaks and damage, proper insulation and ventilation will keep the chances of this happening to a minimum.  Of course we are dealing with Mother Nature and sometimes even the best measures won’t prevent her from having her way.

With the big game coming up we hope everyone stays bundled up and keeps warm, we’ll be enjoying the game indoors.


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