Ice dams and the after-effects of ice dams are some of the most costly downsides to a poorly air-sealed, under-insulated, and under-ventilated home. Ice dams are insidiously destructive; it may take months or even years for the effects of chronic ice damming and water leakage to show in the home.
Signs of Ice Dam Damage
The most common indicators of serious ice dam damage include:
Spotted or stained drywall
Dripping around windows and doors
Rotting roof decking and structural components
Unfortunately, all of these issues are very expensive to patch and fix.
How Ice Dams Form
If your home isn’t properly sealed, insulated, and ventilated, the issue starts when you heat your home for the winter:
Heat escapes from the home into the attic and eaves through various gaps, cracks, and areas of inadequate insulation.
The heat that rises from the home warms roof decking, which melts the snowpack above and allows melt water to run down the roof.
When the melt water hits eaves that have not been warmed by heat escaping the home, the water refreezes. Over time, the water backs up under the shingles, effectively heaving the shingles out of place. At this point, the shingles are seriously damaged.
When the weather warms up, the water that froze under the shingles starts to melt. This allows melting snow and rain to leak into your home and soak the insulation, structural materials, and drywall ceilings.
Many Ice Dam Treatments Fall Short
Often, suggested “treatments” for ice dams involve running heat tape along eaves, in roof valleys, and even in gutters and downspouts. In extreme cases, ice dams are steam blasted off of the roof, often multiple times throughout a single winter. Not only are these propositions very energy intensive, they are also incredibly expensive for the homeowner. In addition, these treatments are just putting a band-aid on a major issues; heat tape and steam blasting may alleviate the symptoms of ice damming, but these avenues don’t address the root cause of their very existence.
Don’t Despair! Prevent Ice Dams
Fortunately, ice dams are largely preventable. Targeted air sealing, well-installed insulation, and proper home ventilation stops the formation of these costly and dangerous dams. The same improvements that help knock out ice dams also tighten up your home, which save you energy and money and improve your home’s comfort.
Ice Dam Mitigation
St. Croix Energy Solutions is here to make sure ice dams do not become an issue for your Western Wisconsin or Eastern Minnesota home. Our mitigation process is thorough and exact. Ice dams thrive on heat loss; we starve them out of existence with three simple steps: air sealing, insulation and ventilation.
The goal is to keep warm air inside where it belongs. Our team seals up bypasses into the attic area with caulking, spray foam, or densely-packed insulation materials, depending on the particular needs of your home. We focus especially on the areas along the eave edge of the home, as these are the most likely areas for ice dam formation.
Insulation slows the flow of heat as it is conducted through building materials. By adding additional insulation to a well-sealed attic, your attic and roof decking are kept even cooler.
Ventilating the attic space allows the roof decking to maintain ambient air temperature as it carries away residual heat. It is important to address both “low side” and “high side” ventilation. Vent chutes at the eaves (or “low-side”) draw outdoor air into the attic from open soffits. Ridge vents or cut-in roof vents (“high side”) allow warmer air to escape the attic, expelling it before it has a chance to melt snow.