3 Steps to Protect Your Roof from Ice Dams this Winter!

3 Steps to Protect Your Roof from Ice Dams

3 Steps to Protect Your Roof from Ice Dams this Winter!

(Last Updated On: April 26, 2016)

In the Northeast, ice dams are part of winter. For homeowners, ice dams are a significant risk because they can create long-term damage. Also, ice dams are a pain in the butt.

Luckily, there are some simple ways that homeowners can protect their roofs during the winter. From Consumer Reports, there are a few recommended steps to take before winter strikes that will help prevent damage to your roof.

  • Check For Damage Before Winter
  • Trim Trees and Remove Debris
  • Clean Gutters and Downspouts
  • Ensure Proper Insulation

All homeowners know that roofs are vital and expensive to replace. They are also the main protection against winter weather. Fortunately, in addition to routine maintenance, which truly helps prevent long term damage to any major home appliance, there are some simple weekend projects that homeowners can do before winter strikes.

Prepare your Roof for Winter Roof

To start, there are some simple things that homeowners can do over a weekend to gage the risk their roof might face during the winter. This weekend take a few minutes to check the general condition of your roof.

1. Check Your Roof

Lately, winters in the Northeast are cold and snowy. Check your roof before mother nature strikes. The vast amount of snow adds up to a lot of extra weight on your roof. Homeowners should understand that not all storms are equal. If wet, heavy snow accumulates, then consider removing some of the snow with a roof rake.

Take a few minutes during the day to look out for cracks, broken or blistered shingles and anything that looks out of the ordinary.

2. Clear Your Gutters and Downspouts

The major concern during the winter is preventing ice dams. One main way to prevent snow and ice from building up is clearing gutters and downspouts. Debris, such as those last batch of fall leaves, will clog your gutters and potentially create future damage when the first seasonal storm strikes.

Additionally, clear debris around the downspouts so there is plenty of room for melting water to drain. Consider adding extensions to your downspouts so the water runs at least 3 to 4 feet away from the foundation.

3. Trim Nearby Trees

As the fall leaves fall, then homeowners should consider trimming any trees near their house. It seems obvious, but small branches and twigs are certain to fall during storms and may build up in gutters.

Any substance, such as pine needles, tends to hold moisture, which will absorb rain, snow, hail and ice from any winter storms. To prevent ice dams, then the key is to be on the lookout for any extra substances that would contribute to blocking the drainage.

To summarize the winter preparation, take a look around your house for anything that could land on your roof or prevent water from draining away from the roof or house foundation.

Your Attic Helps Protect Your Roof

The attic is your best friend in protecting your roof and helping to stop ice dams.

Why?

Ice dams are the result of the differences in temperatures.

The attic is the conduit between the interior of your home and the exterior ruled by mother nature.

As the experts at the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturing Association explain, any clogs in gutters and roof shingles can cause the water to be forced under the roof, which obviously, is not good.

For homeowners, the good news is there are two ways to prevent these issues.

1. Your Attic Requires Proper Ventilation

Over time, moisture may build-up and damage the underside of the roof, your current insulation and home’s drywall. To prevent moisture from occurring, then it is important to keep the interior and exterior temperatures from merging. The hot and cold air combination creates condensation – or moisture. Proper ventilation keeps the attic temperature in sync with the outside temperature to prevent any moisture from building at the eaves of the roof. Consider conducting a home energy checkup because it will pinpoint, if and where, air is escaping your home.

In New England, our winter weather has multiple personalities. Warm(er) days are great to feel a respite during the winter. The snow starts to melt, which helps everyone find more parking spots.

The downside is our freezing temperatures return when the sunsets. The continuous melting and freezing of snow on our roofs works to create a build-up of snow and ice on the eaves of our roofs. Ventilation keeps the attic temperature closely aligned with the outdoor temperature to help restrict the temperature swings.

2. Your Attic Requires Proper Insulation

One of the best ways to help attic ventilation is proper insulation. As noted, the mix of hot and cold air is not good. Proper insulation prevents the interior (warm) air from entering the attic and reaching the roof deck. Proper insulation works with the ventilation system to keep the attic cold and in sync with the outside temperature.

Protect Your Roof From Ice Dams

To help protect your roof from ice dams, then it may help to understand how they form. Those icicles may look nice in the Christmas card, but could be the sign of a larger issue.

icedam_large

So those icicles are dangerous for a few reasons. First, they could fall and hurt someone. Second, they are a sign of build-up around the gutters.

Following snowstorms, then you may want to check for damage once (or if) the roof is cleared. Of course, you’ll want to avoid going on the roof during a storm or in freezing temperatures when the chance of ice is prevalent.

Depending on the type of storm (amount of snow and weight of snow), then consider removing snow from your roof (with standard safety precautions). A standard roof rake should help to clear about 3-4 feet of snow from the edge of the roof, which should provide enough room for the water to melt and runoff.

clearing_snow_from_roof

For long-term prevention, then insulation is the best bet because it attacks the cause of the problem. Additionally, homeowners that are considering replacing their roof could consider installing a water-repellent membrane. This membrane is installed under the shingles and acts as a barrier that helps prevent water and moisture from seeping into the underside of the roof.


Mother Nature controls the winter weather and there is nothing that can be done to prevent her dominance. However, by following some preventative steps and being on the lookout for potential issues following winter storms, homeowners can make strides to protect themselves from ice dams.

For any insulation and energy checkups (to see if any heat is escaping through the attic), then contact SolvIt today!

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