Living in a part of the country that can have sub-zero temperatures throughout the winter can mean that insulating your home is something you take pretty seriously. However, a well-insulated home doesn’t only mean a warmer one as there are other benefits that can be realized during the colder months.
You may have grown up admiring the homes you saw each winter that had long icicles hanging down. Unfortunately, those picturesque additions can often be the symptom of a serious problem inside the home’s roof. However, you can reduce the risk of ice dams forming. How does one go about reduce the risk of ice dams? Let’s start at the beginning to get the full picture.
How Ice Dams Form
When the attic of a house is poorly insulated, warm air can pass through gaps in the insulation between the ceiling of the house and the floor of the attic. This warm air can cause the snow that is accumulating on the roof, to melt. When that snow melts, it begins to run off the roof . As it reaches the colder temperature of the eaves, it can re-freeze leading to an ice dam to develop. Over time, a buildup of ice can occur, backing up the ice further and further up the roof, often lifting some of the shingles, and leaving the continually melting snow nowhere to drain but inside your home.
The Consequences of Ice Dams
There are several problems that can arise as a result of ice dams forming on your roof, some of which can be dangerous:
- Water damage on your ceilings and walls.
- Traditional insulation that becomes sodden and loses its R-value.
- Mold or mildew developing on wet insulation.
- Icicles falling and injuring yourself or family members.
- Loosening shingles.
- Eavestrough damage due to ice buildup.
One telltale sign that ice dams are forming is the appearance of icicles along your eaves.
Short Term Solutions for Ice Dams
If winter has already struck, and you’ve realized too late that your home is at risk of developing ice dams, there are several options that can help you manage the problems that may arise. While none of these options are a permanent solution, but they can help limit the amount of damage happening this year.
Don’t try to go up on the roof to chip away at the ice with a shovel or ax! Not only can this be dangerous to you, it can damage the shingles and the eaves on your home.
One option is to use calcium chloride to melt a passageway in the snow on your roof, so that water has a place to drain. The best way to achieve this is to fill a sleeve of old clothing or a leg of pantyhose with calcium chloride, and place it on the roof, vertically. This will create a trough for the melted ice to escape through.
Another temporary solution is if there is a leak in your attic, a high-powered cooling fan brought into the attic to freeze the source of the leak. This will limit the water from creating further damage, until you’re able to commit to a long-term solution.
The Long Term Solution for Ice Dams
In reality, these short term solutions can only offer you exactly that: a quick fix to a problem that will continue every time there’s a drop in temperature, for the foreseeable future. There may be other options that tout themselves as the answer to your ice dam worries, but there’s only one way to reduce the risk of ice dams developing altogether, and that’s by working to make your home’s roof the same temperature as the outside air.
The ideal way to do this is by properly insulating your attic, and sealing all potential sources of air leaks that could be warming the air in your attic. But how can you ensure an effective air seal on your home? By using spray foam insulation like Icynene.
One of the key differences between traditional insulation and spray foam insulation, when it comes to trying to eliminate air leaks, is that traditional insulation can sometimes be hard to get complete coverage, in hard to reach areas. In contrast, Icynene spray foam expands to 100 times its original size, within seconds of application, to fill any small gaps or holes that might not be reached, otherwise.
By insulating your attic with Icynene spray foam, you are well on your way to reducing the risk of ice dam formation. The heat generated by your HVAC unit stays where it belongs – in your home – and with a properly insulated attic that has limited air loss, the chances of your home developing ice dams can be greatly reduced. This will leave you to enjoy the beauty of winter without worrying about damage to your home.
Find a licensed Icynene spray foam insulation contractor in your area to find out more reasons to choose Icynene.