In the climate that we experience here in Wisconsin ice dams can be an occurring problem on a sloped roof. The ice dam is formed when the accumulated snow on the roof melts and starts its downward travel towards an area on the roof that is below or at freezing, typically at the eves, forming an accumulation of ice, damming up later melting snow which then cannot drain properly off of the roof.  This backed up water can then leak back into your walls and home causing extensive damage.

Roof dam cause graph

Why does this happen? A small amount is caused by the natural freeze thaw occurring on warmer sunny winter days but the true culprit is what is known as a hot roof. A hoot roof is a condition where the heat from the living space of your home is rising up and able to get into attic space warming up the bottom of the roof heating it up and starting the process of melting the snow causing the ice dam.  The warmer air from your home is finding its way through open spots through the ceiling, framing, recessed cans, exhaust fans, plumbing vents and light fixture outlets. Another cause is the lack of proper ventilation in the attic. Again we have warm air rising into the attic and having no other place to go because of the poor ventilation but to heat up the underside of the roof causing the snow melt.

So, we have a problem but how can it be fixed? There are going to be a few things that will be needed to be checked starting with air penetrations into the attic. Any penetrations or openings through the ceiling into the attic should be sealed, preventing the warm air from your home entering the attic which also will help to reduce your energy consumption. Next make sure that you have a proper amount of insulation in the attic. We at Cobblestone Builders provide an R-50 blanket of blown insulation into all the attics of our new construction homes for energy efficiency.   Lastly, make sure that the attic is sufficiently ventilated through the roof either with a ridge vent, slant back vent or pan style roof venting and don’t forget to check along the edges of the walls for air flow baffles.

Roof dam icles

The problem of water damage to a home can be very costly so making sure that your home is performing properly and that ice dams do not form in the long run saves you money.

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