January 1, 1970

Since “Snowmageddon 2014” began on Tuesday we’ve fielded many calls regarding water leaks in ceilings and at walls.  Many times the homeowner calls in a panic – understandably so!

If you’ve noticed water leaking through a ceiling, a can light or running down the interior of a wall this week, an ice damn is probably the culprit!

So, what is an ice dam?  An ice dam occurs when your gutters fill with moisture (run-off from your roof) and that moisture then freezes (typically in the gutters), eventually the moisture will freeze to a point where the moisture run-off from your roof no longer can go over or around the “dam” that has been created by the ice clogged gutter and the water begins to back under shingles and the “underlayment” or moisture barrier of a roof.  This moisture then manifests itself on the inside of your home usually at an opening in a ceiling, such as a can light, or at a low point in the ceiling.

What should you do?  Approach an ice dam with safety in mind.  Getting up on a cold, wet roof can be dangerous and slick.  The dam may be better left alone if the damage has already started.  A little drywall patch and paint versus a hospital emergency room bill may be more affordable!

While we don’t advise getting on a slick roof, your situation may be desperate and you might determine that you need to remove the snow and ice.  Rake the snow off of your roof using an extension pole and roof rake or broom head. Removing excess ice and snow will minimize the moisture run-off, thus reducing or eliminating water damage in the home.

The best strategy is to plan for future occurrences of ice dams.  If you’ve had a dam before, it will most likely rear its ugly head again!  Be prepared – install heaters in your gutters in the fall and ensure the gutters are clear of all debris (dirt, leaves, sticks, acorns, etc.).  Be sure that downspouts are clear of debris and are draining properly.  An easy way to spot clogged gutters and downspouts is to look for ice forming on fascia boards, soffits, and over the top, along the sides or at the undersides of gutters.  Icicles are a telltale sign of poor drainage.  When you install a new roof, ask about an ice and water shield.  In some municipalities it’s required by code to install an ice and water shield.  Another way to assist in preventing ice dams is to properly insulate your attic.

We wish you and your home the best through this snow season.  Please feel free to contact Charlie at (816) 361-9669 or [email protected] with questions regarding ice dams or to setup preventative measures for the next snow storm.  We also recommend these great roofing companies:  Brookside Roofing (816) 361-0663  and Vaught Roofing (816) 761-9859.

See the articles below for more information regarding ice dams

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/skill-builder/0,,211604,00.html

http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/improvement/outdoor-projects/4293184