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Ice Dams And How To Avoid Them

Ice dams are something that occur by the perpetual freezing and melting of roof snow caused by a building's heat escaping upwards, sometimes fueled by repeatedly having gutters backed up with wintry snow and ice. When water from snow or ice melts, it flows beneath the unmelted snow for a bit before re-freezing again when reaching unheated soffits, thereby creating an ice dam. When an ice dam takes place water can be forced to wedge under shingles, making its way through roofing and into a building's top floor space. This is damaging to anything in it's path: insulation, indoor ceilings, walls, and even gutters. Structural integrity can even fail as a result of ice dams.

How can you help minimize ice dam phenomenon? If you're top floor space is not inhabited (like an attic), considering using less or no insulation here. Instead, insulate the living space from the unused space, perhaps using high heel trusses, utilizing some cardboard baffles to clear ventilation at your eaves , and insulating to outside plate boundaries. This will drastically lower a roof's snow-melting thereby greatly reducing the chance of ice-damming. Take a few moments to make sure that your gutters have no clogs and are lower than your roofline so that gravity will carry wintry precipitation clear of your roof where it can cause pesky problems.

If you're having a new roof installed and don't mind going the extra mile, you may also want to consider applying a shingle underlayment. This helps to provide a secondary set of protection in the event ice dams force water between your top layer of roofing. Taking this extra step is even more recommended if you live in a region that experiences lots of cold weather.

While ice dams are a winter nuisance that many are forced to deal with, a little bit of preparation and forethought can go a long way towards ensuring the integrity of your roof and keeping dry during unpleasant weather.
 
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