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Fixing an Ice Dam on Your Roof

With such erratic weather patterns in the past few months, including snow storms in October and warm weather in January, homeowners must pay special attention to the potential forming of ice dams on their Columbus roofing systems. Ice dams are chunks of ice that form along the borders of your roof. They are virtually harmless when frozen, but become a serious problem once water melts off the roof and pools behind the ice, and then seeps back up under the shingles. Eventually it drips through the roof into the soffits, walls, and worst of all, onto your ceilings.

Even if your insurance company covers the damages, it will never cover the time and aggravation of having to repair everything on your Columbus roofing system, including peeling paint, sagging drywall, mold and mildew, and stains around windows and doors. It is best to try to prevent ice dams from forming before you get hit with winter snowstorms. If ice dams have already formed on your Columbus roofing system, there are a few things you can do to get rid of them before they cause significant damage.

Freeze right there! Stop ice dams in their tracks by keeping your Columbus roofing system cold.

A warm attic is a major cause of ice dams on your Columbus roofing system. In many homes, heat escapes through ceilings into the attic and warms the wood and shingles above. Any snow on these warmed sections of roof (at least 32 degrees Fahrenheit) will melt. When the melted water runs down the roof, it hits the cold edge not warmed by the attic. It then freezes and creates a rim of ice, which can grow, trap more water behind it, and create a disastrous ice dam.

The key to preventing this scenario is to keep your attic and Columbus roofing system cold, which can be achieved in a number of ways. You can enter your attic and pull back the insulation, fix any gaps in the drywall, fill in cracks around light fixtures, plumbing pipes and chimneys, and plug any other leaks by using foam, caulk, or other methods. This will decrease the heat loss through the attic. In addition to helping prevent ice dams, this will also save energy and mitigate your heating and air conditioning bills, since about one-third of the heat loss in the average home is through the ceiling, and into the attic.

Another preventative solution: Rake the snow off your Columbus roofing system after a snowfall.

A simple snow rake can help prevent ice dams on your Columbus roofing system. Use it to push the snow off your roof, making sure not to break the shingles, which may be brittle from the cold weather. The logic is simple: if you pull the snow down, it can’t melt on your roof and form an ice dam. However, this is only feasible for single-story homes because you should not use a snow rake while standing on a ladder due to safety concerns.

Keep your gutters clear.

Another simple solution is making sure your gutters and down spouts are clear year round. In the fall, meticulously remove all leaves, sticks and other debris from your gutters and down spouts, so that snow can freely flow through them in the future. In the winter, make sure gutters and down spouts are kept free of snow, ice buildup and the formation of icicles. This will better allow melted snow to exit the roof, decreasing the chance for ice dams on your Columbus roofing system.

When all else fails, install heat cables.

Heat cables are high-resistance wires that you place on the roof edge in a zigzag pattern and plug into an outdoor GFCI receptacle. Heat cables are ideal solutions for spots where ice dams regularly occur and can’t be stopped any other way. Keep in mind that you will have to route the melted water away, or it will refreeze in the gutters and along the edge of your Columbus roofing system.

If you already have an ice dam on your Columbus roofing system…

Don’t panic! Ice dams, themselves, aren’t necessarily a problem; it’s the leaks that cause the majority of the damage. If you can’t detect signs of leakage, you might not have to act yet. Rather, you could wait for warmer weather and then apply the preventative solutions. If you do locate leakage and determine that you do have an ice dam, the most effective solution is to hire a roofing company to steam it off of your Columbus roofing system. A steamer uses hot water to melt ice away without damaging your Columbus roofing system.

What not to do…

You should never chop away at an ice dam. Using a shovel or hammer to knock icicles down can cause considerable damage to your Columbus roofing system. You are also putting yourself in danger due to how slippery and heavy ice can be. Another method to avoid is sprinkling salt on your roof to melt an ice dam. Salt is extremely hazardous to wood and metal, breaking the materials down over time. Salt can also cause severe damage to landscaping, including grass, hedges and flowerbeds. These methods will cause you more money, time, and aggravation in the long run. It’s best to simply leave the job to a professional Columbus roofing contractor.

Rather leave it for the experts? Hire professional Columbus roofing company, Able Roofing, to prevent or fix ice dams.

Able Roofing Columbus is the largest residential roofing company in Central Ohio. Our Columbus roofing contractors are highly skilled in all areas of roofing, siding, windows, masonry, and more. Our specialties include ice dam repair, roof leak repair service, general roof repairs, preventive roof maintenance, roof inspection, roof replacement, roof installation, and roof restoration. Call us at 1-614-444-ROOF to schedule a free estimate or click to learn more about roofing.