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What Causes an Ice Dam?

Authored by James Buren on Jul 02 2021

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that most commonly forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining off the roof.  The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceiling, insulation and other parts of the house.

Most ice damming issues are hidden beneath the finished shingles and cannot be remedied without removing the material and installing specialized materials beneath the shingles.  However, it is possible that improved insulation or ventilation of the attic or adjacent ceilings can prevent ice damming as well. 

A short-term solution can be heating cables laid in a zig-zag pattern along the bottom four feet of the roof and extending into the gutters to create channels for the water to run away.  These cables should extend to the bottom of the downspout. 

There will be an increase in electrical bills but if used only when needed heating cables can prevent hidden and visible water damage inside the dwelling. 

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