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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

What are Ice Dams? What can you do?

2/19/2021 (Permalink)

Numerous ice dams formed on the edge on a roof When an ice dam gets large enough or starts to lift the shingles, water will find its way into the interior of your home.

Heavy snow? Check.  Extreme Temperatures?  Check.  The perfect storm for Ice Dam Season.

An Ice Dam is a lump of ice that forms at the edge of a roof under certain wintertime conditions, and are a common sight during long Michigan winters. It can damage both your roof and the inside of your home, while also putting gutters and downspouts at risk. It’s important to understand that properly installed roof systems are still prone to leaks and damage caused by ice dams. 

How do Ice Dams Form?

An ice dam forms when the underside of the roof over the attic gets warm enough and begins melting snow. The water trickles down between the layer of snow and the shingles until it reaches the edge of the roof, which stays cold because it extends beyond the side of the house. There, the water freezes, gradually growing into a mound of ice.

As the ice dam continues to grow, it traps water behind it. The ice and water can back up under shingles, seeping into the attic, ruining insulation, rotting wood and damaging plaster and drywall.  Eventually, it will drip into the insulation and down into the ceilings and exterior walls beneath the eave, ruining walls and paint.  If the roof sheathing stays wet, it can form mildew and start to rot.

If the ice dam breaks free, it can pull shingles and gutters off with it, and it will damage anything it falls on: shrubs, window sills, cars, pets, and people.

What can you do?

There are several things you can do to avoid getting an ice dam or to reduce the risk of damage after one has formed, but there’s really only one cure: a combination of better eaves and attic insulation and venting.

Attempting to remove an existing dam by chopping it or using heat can damage the home.  We suggest the use of calcium chloride to combat the buildup of ice at the edge of your roof.  It can be found at your local hardware store.

If you find that the interior of your home has been damaged by water seeping in from an ice dam, give SERVPRO of Port Huron a call 24/7 at 810-966-7900.

*Please confirm coverage with your insurance provider, as many carriers consider ice dam buildup to be part of home maintenance* 

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