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Stay ahead of ice dams.

ice dam

Icicles hanging along the eaves of your house may look beautiful, but they spell trouble. That’s because the same conditions that allow icicles to form””snow-covered roofs and freezing weather””also lead to ice dams: thick ridges of solid ice that build up along the eaves.

Dams can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back up and pour into your house. When that happens, the results aren’t pretty: peeling paint, warped floors, stained and sagging ceilings. Not to mention soggy insulation in the attic, which loses R-value and becomes a magnet for mold and mildew.

Here’s a breakdown of the conditions that lead to the formation of ice dams:

  1. First, heat collects in the attic and warms the roof, except at the eaves.
  2. Next, snow melts on the warm roof and then freezes on the cold eaves.
  3. Finally, ice accumulates along the eaves, forming a dam. Meltwater from the warm roof backs up behind it, flows under the shingles, and into the house.

Now that you know how ice dams form, here’s a quick and easy way to prevent them.

  • Heated cables that melt the snow and allow proper drainage
  • Blow cold air into the attic to prevent the snow from melting and then freezing
  • Rake the snow off before it has a chance to melt and freeze

From This Old House


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