Ice Dams 101

Ice dams are one of the most inconvenient and expensive residential building issues. At Energia, we are dedicated to helping homeowners across Western Massachusetts learn about the causes of ice dams as well as strategies for ice dam prevention. We also offer a full suite of services designed to help mitigate these winter nightmares.

What Are Ice Dams? How Do They Form?

Ice dams are ridges of ice that form at the edges of the roof. During the winter, snow accumulates on the roof. If the insulation in the attic is insufficient of or if the attic is leaky, hot air is allowed to escape. When this happens, the accumulated snow and ice melts and flows down the roof. Once the water reaches a cooler spot (like the eaves of the home), the water refreezes. The ice builds up along the edges of the roof and prevents melted snow from draining, allowing the ice dams to build farther and farther up on the roof.

 

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What Causes Ice Dams?

Air Leaks

Ice dams are primarily a result of air leaks in your home’s attic. When warm air leaks out of the top of your home, the snow on your roof melts.

Poor or Insufficient Insulation

Ice dams are also caused by poor and/or insufficient insulation in your attic, including insulation around piping. Poor insulation means heat loss, and heat loss means unwanted snow melt. It is important to use insulation with a high R-Value (thermal resistance) to prevent unwanted heat transfer. The team at Energia offers a variety of high-performance insulation options for all kinds of residential applications.

If you have ice dam issues, you may very well have wet insulation, since your roof is probably leaking. Water-soaked insulation is compressed and doesn’t perform well; even after it dries in the spring, it never recovers its original R-Value.

Note: Gutters are Not the Cause!

Gutters do not cause ice dams. They are not, however, very helpful for allowing drainage once ice dams start to form, and can help concentrate ice and water along the eaves of the home. As they fill with ice, gutters can warp and rip away from the house.

Ice Dams & Your Western Massachusetts Home

There are several signs that can indicate your home is suffering from ice dam problems. These can include (but are not limited to):

Leaky Ceiling

Water can leak down the roof, into the attic, and in walls. This can lead to serious issues with your ceiling integrity and can cause unwanted leaks.

Rotting Roof Decking and Other Structural Components

Unfortunately, issues with rot and mold often accompany issues with ice dams. Moisture is trapped in your attic, wall cavities, and between the exterior plywood sheathing and interior vapor barrier, creating an ideal environment for mold growth. You’ll be able to smell the result. Over time, this can compromise structural components of your home and lead to worsened allergies.

Wet Insulation

Ice dams play a large role in damaging insulation, since the trapped moisture wets the insulation to the point that it’s rendered ineffective.

Stained, Spotted Drywall or Peeling Paint

Do you notice any stains or spots on your home’s drywall? Have you noticed areas of peeling paint? If so, you could be dealing with the aftermath of ice dam damage.

Energia is Here to Fix your Ice Dams!

If your Pioneer Valley area home is suffering from any symptoms of ice dam problems, don’t worry! The team at Energia is here to help. We’ll help you come up with immediate actions to take to mitigate ice dam issues as they are happening, including shovelling and creating channels for proper water drainage.

Our team also offers professional air sealing services designed to eliminate the leaks and cracks throughout your home that are leaking hot air. We can also outfit your home with high-performance insulation (including mechanical insulation around pipes in your attic) to give your attic an additional layer of thermal resistance.

Ready to stop ice dam damage in your Western Massachusetts home? Get in touch with us to learn more about how our services can help.

 

 

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Our team can provide ice dam removal and prevention techniques!

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