As an Ohioan familiar with the various challenges of winter, you know to keep an eye out for frozen snow mounds on your sidewalk or driveway – those treacherous wedges that form after snow accumulates, begins to melt under the sun by day but then freezes solid overnight. The same basic principle can occur on your roof to create ice dams. Although you can’t always keep an eye out for them, preventing ice dams could spare you the stress of making extensive and costly repairs to your home.
As you know, snow can pose myriad problems for a home. Since your roof is naturally sloped downward to drain water away from the house, the water from melting snow (often melting as a result of warmth from the attic) moves in this direction. But if the water refreezes at the lowest point of the roof, where little if any warmth is radiating outward from the attic, it can form a block of ice in and near the rain gutters. This is called an ice dam.
While loading your roof with extra weight, this dam also blocks water from channeling off your roof as it should. And this can spell trouble: With nowhere to go, the water forms a puddle against the dam and can leak indoors through the attic ceiling, windows or trim.
Anyone who has seen the water damage from an ice dam will assure you that they learned the hard way to control heat loss from their home's attic. It's important to capitalize on the cold Ohio winter air and keep the roof of your home cool. Preventing ice dams requires you to:
- As much as practical, keep your roof clear of snow.
- Install attic insulation with a value of at least R-38, or about 12 inches of fiberglass or cellulose.
- Ventilate your roof by creating a 2-inch “air tunnel” between the top of the insulation and the underside section of the roof.
- Seal air leaks to make the most of the insulation. Focus on holes near plumbing, ceiling fixtures, the attic hatch, chimney, bathroom exhaust fans and wires leading outdoors.
- Make sure your attic hatch or door is properly sealed.
At Joe Behr Plumbing and Heating, Inc., we have lots of experience helping Mid-Ohio homeowners prevent ice dams and deal with the related problems. Please call us and we’ll be happy to help your best efforts, too.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Mid-Ohio area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about preventing ice dams and other HVAC topics, visit our website.