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Ice Dams Spoil Springtime

Published by Scott on March 20, 2015 in category: Water Damage Restoration
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Ice dams sound like something out of a comic book or a geologist’s blog, but in reality they are a way of life for people in the entire New England area and they can destroy homes if not properly handled. Ice dams form when snow melts closer to the roof where it is being heated from the temperature inside the home. This melt water finds its way to the gutters where it can become obstructed and form blockades either through clogs of leaves and debris in the gutter or from refreezing of the water into an Ice Dam. Ice dams are much more common towards the end of winter and here’s why:

At the end of Winter snow that has accumulated on the roof goes through a cyclical process of thawing then freezing and then thawing again which spreads and separates layers of roofing materials such as tar paper, shingles, wood and the insulation that form the protective barrier between homeowners and the elements of winter. Once these layers spread from the expansion of ice, they are then susceptible to leaks when the same water thaws during the day or from the temperature inside the home radiating outwards. A well heated home where icicles have formed on the eaves is highly likely to form an ice dam.

Ice dams are truly horrible for the lifespan of a roof due to the high capacity for destruction when the ice starts to thaw. Here’s how a home can become inundated with leaks and water damage from the effects of an ice dam:

After and ice dam has caused the spreading of the roofing materials, it can then create an entry for the continuously melting snow and ice to enter the home. This happens when the water that builds up behind the dam seeps through the cracks created by the expanding ice and into the home. Once inside, water will follow the cue of gravity and flow out from ceilings and into bedrooms and living spaces. If an ice dam has caused water to flow into a home it has also undoubtedly soaked the drywall and insulation materials which then become waterlogged and rotten. Then these wet materials create a breeding ground for mold spores and fungus infestation. Mold and fungus follow in short order behind an ice dam when spring arrives and they can make a home look ugly, smell musty and potentially even cause health problems for those living in it.

Ice dams and mold contamination go hand in hand with water damage brought on during the spring thaw and this is something that everyone can avoid. Here is how homeowners can prevent ice dams, water damage and resulting mold growth:

The first step to ensuring you don’t have an ice dam form on your roof is to clean out your gutters and downspouts after fall but before winter hits. This way all of the leaves and debris in the gutters won’t form blockages that prevent snow meltwater from properly draining. Second, don’t allow snow or ice to accumulate on your roof in large quantities during the winter. This may mean that you require roofing or restoration professionals to clear off the snow and ice during the winter. Finally there are heating cables specifically designed for gutters that go a long way in preventing ice dams from ever forming, but they must be installed before winter hits and also require well-groomed gutters and downspouts to perform properly.

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