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Everything Wisconsin Homeowners Need to Know About Ice Dams

Everything Wisconsin Homeowners Need to Know About Ice Dams

January in the Madison metro area can prove to be the coldest month of the year. With the temperature dropping well below freezing, the harsh elements of winter can pose serious threats to your home. One common threat your home faces every winter is ice dams.

Here’s a Wisconsin homeowners guide to ice dams.

What Is an Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents the melting snow or water from draining off the roof through the gutters. The melting snow backs up on the roof and can seep into the roof, walls, and insulation, causing significant damage to your home and your health.

Moisture caused by ice dams can lead to growth of mold and mildew, affecting the air quality inside your home. Untreated mold can cause respiratory problems. If you see any areas in your home that are wet or damp, make sure to dry the area out completely and get rid of the water source.

How Do Ice Dams Form?

The main culprit for ice dams is insufficient insulation in your home’s attic. As you may know, heat rises. Your home’s heating elements work hard during the winter to keep the temperature warm and cozy. When your attic isn’t properly insulated, the heat from your home will leak into your attic, raising the overall temperature. Ice dams can also form when the sun heats up the snow on the roof until the temperature drops again at night.

When your attic is warmer than the air outside, the snow sitting on top of your roof will begin to melt. The snowmelt will make its way to the edge of your roof, resting on the eaves or in the gutters. Since the snowmelt is away from the warm air of the attic, it will begin to freeze again. This melting and freezing process repeats until an ice dam forms that is too large to ignore.

Homes with recessed lights, skylights, complex roof designs and heating ducts in the attic are more likely to see ice dams form than a standard roof. If you have any of these things on your roof, take extra care to watch for ice dam formation.

Why Are Ice Dams Bad?

Ice dams may look kind of pretty when they produce long icicles, but the damage they can cause sure isn’t. Some ice dams can carry a great amount of weight. These heavy ice dams can break off from the roof, tearing the shingles it was frozen to with it.

An ice dam breaking off will certainly cause damage to your roof and the shingles that cover it, prompting an untimely and costly repair or replacement.

Ice dams falling also pose a threat to damaging other parts of your exterior, including siding, windows, and gutters. Lastly, falling ice dams pose a potential hazard to you, your family, your pets, and other objects around your property.

When ice dams melt as the season changes into Spring, your home becomes at risk for leakages or flooding, particularly if the ice dams caused cracks in the first place.

How to Prevent Ice Dams

There are several ways to prevent ice dams. The first and foremost thing to do is have the ice dam removed safely. For long-term solutions, it’s a good idea to make sure the ceiling is air tight so that none of your warm air can escape through the attic or roof. Then you can have more insulation installed to help keep the air from rising too close to the roof.

A new roof can also help prevent ice dams, as they’re built to specific codes for ice dam prevention. Plus, with proper insulation, sunlight can be properly reflected instead of absorbed into your attic. This will allow for more precise interior temperatures.

Expert vs. DIY Ice Dam Removal

When it comes to removing ice dams, it’s always a good idea to hire a trusted professional. Roofing contractors that remove ice dams have years of experience with this potentially dangerous task.

Additionally, a trusted professional uses top-notch equipment to remove ice dams safely, quickly, and effectively.

Call on Isthmus Roofing for All Your Winter Exterior Needs

If you need work with your roofing, or any other parts of your exterior this winter, call on Isthmus Roofing. Request a quote online or give us a call at 608-949-0533 today!

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