Learn Five Signs of Ice Damming

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017 by Beth Sumner

Ice Damming occurs when the heat you use to warm your house escapes upward and melts the snow on the roof, which then trickles down to the cooler edges of the roof and refreezes. 

The more ice that accumulates,
the warmer the roof gets,
the more snow melts. 

The solution is to keep the “paid-for” heat inside your home where it belongs. But before we work on solving it, let’s make sure we’ve properly diagnosed the issue.

 Ice Damming Illustration

(Illustration of Ice Damming)

So - what are five signs that you may have Ice Damming going on at your home?

1. Icicles

Icicles can be a sign of a bigger problem, Ice Damming. Icicles occur when your gutters are full of ice and unable to move water away. This is one of the early signs of ice damming. As the ice builds, it backs up onto your roof and eventually pushes water into your house.  

2. Discolored Icicles?

Uh oh. You’ve got it bad. That’s not dirt from on top of your roof – that’s dirt from INSIDE. Are they coming off the edge of the gutter, or are those brown icicles coming out of your attic vents? Yeah, that’s not good... that means water has already penetrated into your home!

3. New Water-Stains on your Ceilings

Any new water-stain on your ceiling should be investigated immediately. If you’re getting water damage on an upstairs ceiling in the wintertime, it’s almost certainly ice damming. Even on lower floors, water can run down the inside of walls and sometimes even pour into the basement. Check your calendar. If it’s June, and the water gets in during a big rainstorm, you’ve got a leaky roof. If it’s February, and you’re getting water damage on a cold sunny day – Ice damming.

4. Melted Snow on Roof

Head outside and check your roof.  Is the snow melted more on the north or south side? How much melting do you have compared to your neighbors? Are there any spots where it’s melted more, or where it melted fastest?  Look around skylights, chimneys, and dormers. Is there any particular shape to the melt pattern? Stripes? Squares? Circles? Are there more at the top, or more at the bottom? 

Remember, melted snow at the very PEAK of the roof will flow downhill as water, and cause damming at the lowest point.  Just because the symptom is at the wall, doesn’t mean that the source of the problem is as well – Just like bad shoes can hurt your back.

5. Dams

They appear as large “hills” or “mounds” of ice along the bottom edge of your roof. You may have a puddle of standing water on the uphill side of the slope.

Now that you know WHAT to look for - HOW do you prevent it from happening in the first place? 

The problem (the warm roof) is caused by poor insulation and venting of the space under the roof. 

If you've found that you are ready to tackle the problem, give us a call (585-248-TRUE) and set up an appointment for us to come out and take a look at what's going on. We are experts at Home Science - we've even written a book about it!

Check out this video from Dr. Energy Saver which discusses Ice Damming.

You can also check out this video by Energy Star,
which shows you how to measure the insulation in your attic.





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