The mercury is finally starting to dip here in Michigan, and it won’t be long before we see our share of winter precipitation. All of this cold weather on the horizon adds up to a blanket of beautiful, pristine snow and icicles. But as lovely as it is, all of that ice and snow can do its fair share of damage to your home and roof.

One of the biggest threats to your home comes in the form of ice dams, which can cause serious damage to your home’s insulation and roof. At J&J Roofing in Roseville, our expert roofing professionals are experienced at repairing damage from winter weather. In this post, we’ll talk about the impact of ice dams on your home and how we can help protect your home and repair it when damage does occur.

What is an Ice Dam?

An ice dam starts with simple winter precipitation. With the first heavy snowfall, while you’re enjoying nature’s beauty, the snow on your roof already poses a risk to your home. That’s because as the temperatures rise or the warm air of your attic heats the top of your home, that snow will turn to water and melt, resulting in icicles at the edge of your roof.

If this process happens too quickly, you can end up with water running off the eaves and toward your gutters, where it freezes again. The ice forms a dam, meaning water has nowhere to go but back onto your roof and into your home, ceiling, and ventilation. If you’ve got icicles, there’s a pretty solid chance you’ve got ice dams as well.

Exterior Damage

Ice dams are notorious for causing extensive damage because once it melts, if it is too heavy, it can fall off the roof, pull the gutter system, and shingles with it, resulting in extreme exterior wall and roof damage. The ground can also be affected if the dam falls on anything in the space. Being aware of where the dam is located in conjunction with vehicles, decks, windowsills, plants, pets, and people, can help reduce the risk of injury until you can get it addressed.

Mildew and Mold Growth

If the roof begins to leak and water reaches the attic, it will easily get into the walls, ceiling, or insulation. These dark and damp spaces are the perfect place for mildew and mold to grow; resulting in a potentially hazardous living environment if left unaddressed. 

Damage to Your Home's Interior

A melting ice dam can also cause extensive damage to the structural integrity to the home. One of the first indicators that water is getting in is stains on the ceiling and walls, which can ruin the sheetrock and the paint, leaving an unhealthy and unsavory aesthetic. Your interior wall sheathing, rafters, and any wood components are also at risk, creating a much larger problem.

And if left unchecked, you may need to replace carpets, furniture, or flooring, resulting in extensive and costly repairs.

Energy-Efficiency Loss

If the melting ice dam reaches your insulation and gets it wet, it will reduce how effectively it works because the material will not decompress even after it dries out. You end up with a less effective insulation that allows the heat to escape the roof area, and can produce even more ice dams. Your home's energy usage can go up resulting in higher bills because the insulation can't function as effectively due to the moisture.

Preventing Ice Dams

While ice dams can end up causing significant damage to your home, many homeowners are surprised to learn that they’re actually quite preventable. One of the leading causes of ice dams is a lack of appropriate attic insulation. A well-insulated attic will keep your home’s interior more comfortable, lower your overall energy costs, and help to prevent ice dams from forming on your roof. If ice dams do occur, you should get your roof assessed and repaired as soon as possible to prevent additional damage inside your home.

Follow these steps to address ice dams that have already formed:

  1. Try to rake the snow off of your roof.
  2. Use calcium chloride to de-ice your roof.
  3. Try to clear your gutters so water flows freely.

Contact Our Detroit Home Roof Repair Contractors to Prevent Ice Dams

The best way to deal with ice dams is to prevent them from ever forming to begin with. Start by addressing any roofing repair needs and getting a professional assessment of your attic insulation.

If you’re concerned about damage from ice dams this year, contact our team of roofing contractors at J&J Roofing about insulation updates for your home. We also offer financing options for new roofs. To get your free estimate, call our team at 586-445-6455 or contact us to discuss your roofing concerns.