America's Insulation Experts

Icicles and Ice Dams are Pretty... dangerous!

Icicles and Ice Dams are Pretty... dangerous!

It already seems like a long, long winter—when it's really only a few weeks old! The fact is, in most cities that USA Insulation serves, homeowners have been dealing with snow, icicles, and ice dams for several months.

Some think that knocking icicles off the roof is a game. Whack one with a shovel then duck out of the way and hope it doesn't crash through a window.

Ice dams pose a different type of challenge. Climb up on the roof and shovel the snow off without damaging the shingles!

We have a better way to deal with icicles and ice dams—don't let them form in the first place!

Icicles occur when water runs off a warm roof and freezes as it reaches the colder air. Over time, the freezing runoff builds up and forms an icicle. Icicles can cause serious injury to people or objects when they break off, as well as result in structural damage to the home from their sheer weight.

Ice dams form when snow accumulates on a roof that is warmer than the outside temperature. The top cover of snow remains intact while the lower layer melts. This meltwater flows down the roof under the snow and when it reaches an eave, overhang, or colder section of roof, it freezes—resulting in a thick collection of ice. When more meltwater flows down the roof, it gets stopped by these dams and pools on the roof. The backed up water can get under shingles or other roofing material, resulting in leaks that can damage ceilings, walls, roofs and insulation.

The best way to prevent ice dams and icicles is to make sure your attic stays as cold as the temperature outdoors. A sufficiently deep layer of insulation in your attic (The Department of Energy recommends about a foot and a half) prevents heat from escaping into the attic from your living spaces. Air leaks leading from the interior to the attic of your home should be sealed. Finally, the attic should have enough ventilation to allow heat in the attic to escape and cold air to come in.

There's still a lot of winter to go. Don't play with fire—or, in this case, frozen things. Do what you have to do to keep your attic cold and your home free of icicles and ice dams.

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