How to prevent an ice dam

Oklahoma is known for its heavy ice storms, and it can be challenging to prepare for them, especially if you don’t know it’s coming. When water freezes, it expands, creating damage to your shingles, open cracks in your roof, and ruin your gutters. When ice melts, it can flow into the cracks in your roof. One thing, in particular, to watch out for is the formation of an ice dam.

What is an ice dam?

Ice dams are a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof, preventing melted snow from draining. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home and cause damage, such as mold, mildew, and it can even create respiratory issues. 

Roofs that have uneven temperatures are what lead to ice dams. A combination of heat loss from a house, snow, and outside temperatures all interact to form ice dams. The snow on the surface of a roof that is above freezing will melt. 

Water then flows down the roof and reaches a part of the roof that is below freezing, creating an ice dam. As water is backed up behind the ice dam, it remains a liquid and finds cracks and other openings in the roof’s exterior.

Prevention

Ice dam removal can be difficult and frustrated, so it’s best to take action in preventing them from forming. Focusing on temperature control is a great start. Adding attic ventilation will draw in cold air from outside and flushes out the warmer air from the attic, which cools the roof and the attic in the process. 

Some roof types can be hard to vent, so you may have to rely on other options, including adhesive ice and water barrier, a type of self-sealing underlayment that sticks to the roof decking and waterproofs it. 

If you see that an ice dam has formed, hire a roofing company to steam it off. A steamer is similar to a pressure washer, except the water is hot. Avoid chipping the ice off as it can break or puncture your shingles. Leaks aren’t always detectable, so it’s important to take the necessary precautions to prevent them. 

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