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New Hampshire homeowners are no strangers to the challenges that come with harsh winter weather. Among the many issues faced, one particularly insidious problem for many homeowners is the formation of ice dams on their roofs. Left unchecked, ice dams can cause significant damage to your roof structure, leading to leaks, compromised insulation, and costly repairs.

In this educational article, we’ll delve into the formation of ice dams, their impact on roofs, and effective prevention and mitigation strategies tailored for New Hampshire homeowners. By understanding the causes of ice dams and implementing these recommended strategies, you can protect your home from potential damage and avoid unexpected expenses during the winter months. Equip yourself with the valuable knowledge in this article and stay one step ahead of ice dams this winter season in New Hampshire.

1. What are Ice Dams and How Do They Form?

a.  Definition and Formation

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that builds up along the lower edge of a roof, preventing melting snow from draining off. They usually form when snow accumulates on the roof and the attic’s warmth melts the bottom layer of snow. The melted snow then flows downward to the edge of the roof, where colder temperatures cause it to freeze again, leading to the formation of an ice dam.

b. Contributing Factors

Several factors contribute to ice dam formation, including inadequate attic insulation, poor ventilation, and varying roof temperatures due to inconsistent home heating.

2. The Consequences of Ice Dams on Your Roof

a. Water Intrusion

As the ice dam grows, melted snow becomes trapped behind it and unable to drain off the roof. This standing water can seep under shingles, causing leaks and water damage to your home’s interior.

b. Damaged Roofing Materials

The added weight of ice dams can strain your roof’s structure, causing shingles and other roofing materials to buckle or become damaged.

c. Gutter and Downspout Damage

Ice dams can cause significant damage to gutters and downspouts, causing them to separate from your roof or become damaged due to the weight of the ice.

d. Mold and Mildew

Prolonged water infiltration caused by ice dams can lead to the growth of mold and mildew within your home’s walls, ceilings, and insulation, potentially posing health risks for residents.

3. Preventative Measures to Avoid Ice Dam Formation

a. Attic Insulation

Improving attic insulation can prevent heat from escaping your living spaces and reaching the roof. Ensure that your attic has the appropriate amount and type of insulation for your region (R-49 to R-60 for New England) to reduce the chance of ice dam formation.

b. Attic Ventilation

Proper attic ventilation allows warm air to escape and promotes even roof temperatures, minimizing the freezing and thawing cycles that contribute to ice dam formation. Gable vents, ridge vents, and soffit vents can help facilitate airflow throughout the attic space.

c. Air Sealing

Seal any gaps, cracks, or openings in your attic to prevent warm indoor air from leaking out and causing snowmelt. Some common areas to address include electrical boxes, plumbing vents, and HVAC ducts.

d. Roof Surface Temperature Regulation

Consider installing a roof heating system, such as heat cables or heat tape, to keep your roof surface temperature consistent and prevent the melting and refreezing cycle that leads to ice dams. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for correct installation and usage.

4. Mitigation Strategies for Existing Ice Dams

a. Clear Snow from Your Roof

One way to deal with existing ice dams is to remove snow from your roof. Use a roof rake or telescoping snow removal tool specifically designed for this purpose. Be cautious to avoid damaging your roof, and never use a ladder during icy conditions.

b. Create Channels in the Ice Dam

Carefully break up the ice dam and create channels to allow trapped water to flow off the roof. A blunt mallet can be used for this purpose, but be cautious not to damage your roof.

c. Apply Deicer

Apply a chemical deicer, like calcium chloride, to the ice dam to help melt it and free trapped water. Avoid using rock salt, as it can damage roofing materials and corrode gutters.

d. Call In Professionals

When in doubt, seek help from a roofing professional or ice dam removal specialist. These experts have specialized equipment and experience to safely remove ice dams without causing further damage to your home.

By understanding the formation of ice dams and the potential harm they can cause to your home, you can take appropriate measures to prevent them from forming and mitigate any existing issues. With a well-insulated, ventilated attic and regularly scheduled roof maintenance, you can protect your New Hampshire home from the consequences of ice dams and keep your roof in optimal condition throughout the harsh winter months. Implement these prevention and mitigation strategies to stay ahead of ice dams and safeguard your home against costly damage this winter season.

Protect Your Roof from Ice Dams with ASAP Roofing

Don’t let ice dams wreak havoc on your New Hampshire home this winter. By comprehending the causes of ice dams and implementing the appropriate prevention and mitigation measures, you can safeguard your roof from potential damage and costly repairs. Knowledge is your best defense, and taking prompt action at the earliest signs of ice dams will help you maintain your home’s structural integrity and overall value.

At ASAP Roofing, we understand the challenges that harsh New England winters can pose to homeowners. Our team of fully insured, experienced, and 5-star rated roofing professionals is prepared to assist you with a wide range of services, from ice dam removal and prevention measures to comprehensive roof inspections and repairs. We are your go-to residential roofing contractor!