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Ice Dam Prevention

  1. Warm air escapes into attic through insulation warming roof from beneath.
  2. Water from melting snow travels down roof until reaching colder eave, where it refreezes, forming ice dam.
  3. More water backs up behind the ice dam and eventually works its way under shingles or through gaps in flashing.
  4. Moisture penetrates ceilings and walls causing damage to plaster, paint, wallpaper and presenting an electrical hazard.
  5. Gaps created by saturated or sagging insulation increases the rate of heat loss leading to bigger ice dams and heating bills.


Improving your attic's insulation is the most effective strategy for combating ice dams. The higher the R rating of the insulation the better. Remember, the object is to make the roof as uniformly close to the ambient outdoor temperature as possible. Homes in cold climate zones that receive significant snowfall should be protected with ceiling insulation that has an R rating of at least 38 and is about 12" deep. Seal openings around plumbing and wiring that will allow warm air to escape from below with aerosol foam (exercise caution, as this type of material expands after escaping the can). Good roof venting also plays an important role in preventing the melting that feeds the formation of ice dams.


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