This past winter has been brutally cold and along with this cold weather comes ice and snow.  In freezing temperature water can become solid on the edge of the roof of your house or business.  This is often referred to as an ice dam.  Ice dams can be extremely damaging to your home as they allow water to back up behind them.  This will eventually force water into your home and cause water damage and sometimes mold growth.

Ice dams typically form after heavy snowfall and several days of freezing temperatures.  What happens is the warm air inside your home rises to the attic and warms the underside of the roof.  This causes the snow and ice on the roof to melt and as the water travels down your roof toward the gutters it refreezes forming an ice dam.  This refreezing occurs because the edge of the roof is typically the same temperature as the outside.  As it was stated before ice dams can cause water to leak into your home.  Therefore, water damage and mold are typical side effects of this home ailment.

Do I Have An Ice Dam?

Ice dams happen and they can often sneak up on you.  If you have an ice dam or are unsure if you do there are a few tell tale signs that there is one on your roof.  First, if you go into the attic and see some staining on the attic ceiling there is a good chance that there is an ice dam that is forcing water into your home.  Other signs of an ice dam include water damage and mold growth.  It can even cause mold to grow above ceilings and in wall cavities which can affect the indoor air quality of the building.  Long term exposure to the mold growth can cause respiratory issues such as allergies or asthma.

Preventing Ice Dams

While ice dams seem to be a huge threat to your home and your health they can be prevented.  By controlling the heat loss in your attic you can avoid ice dams and the issues that are associated with them.  Keep the warm and moist air in your home from traveling to the attic by simply sealing air pathways and properly insulating your attic.  Your attic may already be properly insulated and all you need to do is seal any areas where heat can rise to the attic.  Another precaution is ensuring that your vented appliances such as dryers are vented to the outside and not into the attic.  If your appliances are vented to the attic, call a professional to change it.  You can also check for proper attic ventilation which will help keep the roof a uniform temperature.

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