Winter Is the Season for Ice Dams — How to Prevent Them on the Roof of Your Home

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Winter can hit Southwest Ohio pretty hard, even though we don’t usually get a lot of snow. This doesn’t mean that the greater Cincinnati area can’t experience a big snowstorm or weeks of sub-freezing weather. That’s why it’s a good idea to learn what ice dams are and how to prevent them from forming on the roof of your house.

What Causes Ice to Dam on the Roof?

Ice dams form when snow on the roof doesn’t melt evenly. The higher parts of the roof with more warm attic space underneath tend to melt snow quicker than lower parts, especially near the roof edge. Melted snow may drain toward the edge of the roof and then refreeze as the roof surface gets colder. That ice will form a ridge or dam that blocks other melted snow. This can cause the snowmelt to back up and eventually find its way beneath shingles and into the attic, damaging the roof, attic walls and floor. It might even drain into your living spaces, causing expensive damage.

Preventing Ice Dams

The best way to minimize the chance of ice dams forming on the roof is to insulate the attic so less heat finds its way to the rooftop. Attic ventilation also helps, since it keeps the attic from getting too warm. Insulation and air sealing of the attic floor will help warmth from the home’s living spaces from finding its way into the attic. On the outside, you can make sure rain gutters are draining properly so water doesn’t accumulate in the gutters, becoming ice when it freezes.

The good news is that our Southwest Ohio climate doesn’t raise the risk of ice dams nearly as much as farther north, where snowfall is greater and temperatures colder. It’s still a hazard, but not as much as in snowier climates.

For more professional advice on preventing ice dams in your Cincinnati area home, please contact us at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

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