Fall is here! It is almost time to clean your gutters of falling leaves and soil. Winter will undoubtedly bring ice build up on your roof if your home has a poorly insulated attic. If you can’t add insulation at this time, it will still greatly help if you clear your gutters of debris. Ice dams will occur when water, or snow melt cannot easily flow off your roof. Water damage from melting snow and ice will flow through the vents in your roof -then ceiling , into your light fixtures, bath fans, and walls. It is difficult to find past ice dam damage during a general home inspection unless the damage was severe. A home inspector can note that the insulation levels are low in the attic, however an energy auditor should be able to give you a list of recommendations on what could be done to avoid ice dams.
Ice dams on Minnesota roofs were severe in 2014 -more than they had been in years. The swing in temperatures from freezing to melting (mostly freezing….brrr) in winter had caused beautiful ice sculptures on, and around roof lines, and through holes in gutters. Ice Dams were a common issue found in most of the roof inspections completed that year.
We do love the occasional 30+ degrees one or two days in winter, -but then by nightfall it may fall below zero again (which we didn’t love so much). Well those mood lifting days create shingle lifting ice on the upper layers, and lower layers of our roof.
Poor attic insulation also allows $ heat to rise through attic accesses, and through your ceiling in general. Unintentional warming of the attic not only increases your energy bill, keeps the critters in the attic comfortable, but also is the main contributor to the formation of the ice dams. The snow on the upper roof melts and drains down to the colder lower roof-and now the snow melt freezes.
In hindsight, now we understand why raking the snow off the roof, as it falls, is an important homeowner’s maintenance tip, No snow to melt =no ice to form dams. Be careful not to damage the shingles.
Thor Anderson, a MN ice dam removal contractor (www.thorandersoncontracting.com ) said his volume of calls for service were so great in 2014 that he requested the callers to “please text an address to his phone”. If he was in the area, he’d be there as soon as possible. Within a few hours time, he had received 35 texts and addresses!
So now what? There are plenty of DIY removal tips found on the internet. Some that I don’t suggest. Beware of messing up your possible insurance policy pay-out. Visit Ice Dam Guys for insurance tips, and more detailed information on your second job- ice dams and home ownership.
Note: Daylight Savings Time ends November 5, 2017.
Minnesota Building and Home Inspector since 2001