Ice dams can cause serious harm to your roof, but they can be stopped with a little bit of understanding and preemptive action.
The basic concept is simple. Keep the roof the same temp as the eaves. Upping the ventilation, insulating, and eliminating any leaks that might heat the bottom of the roof will accomplish this. Your energy bill will probably look nicer, too!
Here’s a little guide to help this winter, by order of importance:
- Ventilate! Pair ridge vents with soffit vents to circulate cold air under the entire roof. These vents should have a ratio of at least 1 square foot opening for every 300 sq. ft. of attic floor.
- Batten down the hatch! Hatch doors to attic are a huge opening for heat to escape. Use foam core with an aluminum side or weather stripped caps with aluminum tape to seal them shut.
- Check your ducts. Take a close look at all of the vents leading outside of your house. These can come from the dryer, the kitchen, and the bathroom. It’s okay for heat to travel outside using these pathways that go through the walls or the roof, but make sure they don’t travel through soffit vents.
- Insulate. Putting down insulation on your attic floor will keep the heat where it belongs and away from the underside of your roof. The amount of insulation you need will depend on your attic, so ask your local building experts.
- Insulate lights. Those recessed lights we use to light the outside of our homes actually give off a lot off quite a bit of heat. Update your home with “IC” fixtures that can be insulated so not to spread that heat to your roof.
- Don’t forget your chimney. Spray foam insulation in this area is not safe. If you use steel flashing held in place with fire-stop sealant, this should do the trick.