What is an Ice Dam and How Does It Affect Your Home

what is an ice dam

If you live in the northern part of the United States, you’re likely familiar with ice dams. However, you might not be familiar with the name. have you ever noticed icicles on the side of your roof leaking from your gutters? This is a common experience for people who experience freezing cold winters. Even though many people are used to seeing this phenomenon during winter, it doesn’t bode well for your home. There are ways you can avoid these ice dams to minimize household repairs moving forward.

Please continue reading to learn everything you need about what is an ice dam and how it affects your home. Our guide will teach you why you need it to resolve this problem and why it’s a  problem in the first place. Just because you’re used to seeing something on your home doesn’t mean it’s good.

What is an Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a blockage of ice that occurs on the side of your roof or in your gutters. This dam makes melting snow difficult to drain off your roof because it blocks all the drainage points. The name comes from the idea of beaver dams, which prevent water flow in nature. Even though many people think that having an ice dam is a natural part of owning a house in the winter, there are plenty of ways to prevent this problem. Ice dams can cause severe damage to your roof and surprise you with interior water damage.

Common Locations for Ice Dams

Unfortunately, ice dams are a more common problem than people realize. The following are several locations you can find these dams.

Anywhere that experiences winter climate: If you live in an area that receives plenty of snow, you’re at higher risk of developing an ice dam on your roof. Areas that don’t receive a harsh winter don’t have to worry as much about this problem. Pay attention to the weather to avoid this issue.

On the sides of your roof: Ice dams can range from noticeable to unnoticeable. For example, you could have large icicles dangling from the sides of your roof or small ones. However, no matter what size the icicles are, they block water from draining when the snow melts.

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In your gutter: The most common place for people to develop an ice dam is in their gutters. These dams develop because there’s too much debris stuck in the gutters when winter arrives. Fortunately, finding an ice dam in your home won’t take much hard work. If you notice an ice dam on your gutters, it would be best to invest in gutter repair. You might need to consider gutter installation to resolve this problem in severe situations.

What Causes an Ice Dam?

There are several causes of an ice dam on your roof. Most people associate this problem with gutters, but other contributing factors exist.

  • Too many leaves: We recommend sleeping the leaves off your roof before the first snowfall. This will make it easier for you to avoid an ice dam developing that can cause permanent water damage to your home.
  • Too much snow: People who live in cold climates know that snow can range from an inch to 10 inches or more. If there’s too much snow on your roof, it would be best to sweep it off before it becomes a problem. When snow accumulates and weather fluctuates, an ice dam can develop.
  • Gutter blockage: Gutters are generally one of the most frequently forgotten home maintenance necessities. It would be best to set a reminder on your phone to clean your gutters every season to avoid these blockages.

After you learn what an ice dam is and what causes it, it’s time to discuss the dangers of this problem.

Dangers Of an Ice Dam

There are plenty of dangers associated with an ice dam which is why you need to avoid them developing on your roof. You don’t want to deal with the aftermath of it these problems. For one, they can be dangerous, and for two, they can get expensive.

Permanent Gutter Damage

Sometimes the seasons go by faster than you expect, and the next thing you know, you have an ice dam weighing down your gutters. Unfortunately, this can cause permanent gutter damage that requires an expert replacement. If you notice broken gutters at your home, it would be best to call a gutter repair specialist.

Roof Leaks

Water damage can wreak havoc on your home and create many problems. Unfortunately, if you don’t prevent these ice dams from developing, the snow on your roof has nowhere to go. You rely on your gutter system to prevent pools on your roof from developing, which can lead to leaks. Even though you might not notice this leaking problem during the winter, it’ll become relevant during the spring.

Mold and Mildew

One of the consequences of water damage from an ice dam is that mold and mildew can develop inside your home. This can be a health hazard for everybody living there, especially if people struggle with allergies in the household. Therefore, it’s important to replace broken gutters whenever you notice mold and mildew in the house from roof damage.

Environmental Hazard

Finally, another problem that comes along with an ice dam developing on a roof is that it can become an environmental hazard. For example, if you walk outside and shut the door too hard under an ice dam, the icicles can fall on your head. Preventing these ice dams from developing is an excellent way to keep yourself safe during the winter.

Final Thoughts

Taking great care of your gutters and replacing them when necessary is the best way to avoid ice dams. If you live in a hot climate, the likelihood of these stamps developing is not as bad as someone who lives in a cold climate. The people who experience harsh winters need to take care of their roofs to ensure that water damage doesn’t develop due to a lack of draining water.

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