Look Out for Ice Dams on Your Home's Roof

January 19, 2017

Ice dams are a visible red flag that tell you that heat from your attic is escaping onto the roof, and it’s warm enough to melt the snow. As the snowmelt trickles down, its temperature cools and the water freezes at the edge of the roof. Besides indicating heat loss through the roof, an ice dam can wreak havoc on the structure.

As the water melts, it can seep into the eaves, exterior walls, the attic and floors, where it sets the stage for mold growth and wood rot. The cost of these structural repairs outweighs the expenses associated with fixing them. Warm air leaking into the attic also raises your heating bills, as well.

Stopping ice dam formation starts by ruling out a clogged gutter near the ice dam. Although it’s a less common cause, clogged gutters prevent water from draining that will cause an ice dam. If the gutters are clear, head to the attic where air leaks from the house or inadequate insulation could be contributing to the problem.

Inadequate Insulation

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends at least 16 inches of attic insulation to prevent heat transfer. Use a ruler to measure it at randomly throughout the attic. Compressed or moldy insulation offers little protection and should be replaced. Adding more insulation is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to improve home energy efficiency.

Ductwork Problems

Homes with uninsulated or leaking ductwork that runs through the attic experience substantial heat loss. As you inspect the insulation, look for tell-tale dust deposits near the ducts that indicate air leakage.

Air Infiltration

Look for air leaks around the vents, flues and recessed lighting fixtures that enter the attic. An infrared digital thermometer simplifies this process by showing where the air is warmer. Leaks are generally easy to fix with caulk and metal flashing.

Stopping ice dams by improving insulation and sealing air leaks maintains the integrity of your home and cuts your energy bills. To learn more, contact Lozier Heating & Cooling, providing trusted HVAC services for Des Moines homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Des Moines, Iowa area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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