How to Prevent Ice Dams This Winter

How to Prevent Ice Dams This Winter from Zerodraft

Any Albany homeowner who has ever experienced ice dams in the past, knows that they can be a serious pain. Add to this the fact that ice dams can end up costing you quite a bit of money if left unaddressed, and it’s clear that putting some work into preventing winter ice dams is a necessity this fall. What ice dams typically do is cause water to back up on the roof of a home, which can damage walls, ceilings, insulation and any other parts of the home that are nearby. Plus, huge icicles can form around the perimeter of your home’s roof, which can be extremely dangerous. Preventing ice dams doesn’t have to be as confusing as you might think. In the end, it often comes down to having a home that is properly insulated and air sealed.

The Importance of Insulation

Understanding how ice dams form is a crucial part of ensuring that they don’t become problems for your home. If the air in your attic, or other unoccupied spaces near the roof of your home is significantly hotter than the air outside, the snow on your roof will invariably begin to melt. While this may not seem like a problem at face value, the issues begin when this melted snow refreezes, forming an ice dam.

The key to preventing ice dams is to ensure that your attic air is at a similar temperature to the air outside, and it all comes down to properly insulating the space. When an attic is well insulated, hot, stagnant air becomes a non-issue, and so do ice dams. Keeping your roof cold prevents the snow on top from melting, and this is done by either adding the attic to your home’s thermal envelope or removing it.

Where to Start?

As every home is unique to itself, it’s important to come up with a plan that will ensure that ice dam issues are a thing of the past. Having adequate insulation and air sealing at your attic’s floor will keep heat exactly where it belongs, in your living space and out of your attic - this will keep your attic near the same temperature as your roof. It is also important to air seal any penetrations or gaps that would allow your home’s conditioned air to leak through to your attic.

A different approach is to insulate the roof of your attic, this will keep your attic warm but stop the heat from escaping to the roof and melting snow. It can also be helpful to insulate areas such as ductwork and chimneys—basically, anything that touches the attic. Removing snow from your roof will keep ice dams at bay also, but this should be handled cautiously by a trained professional.

Let Zerodraft Help

At Zerodraft, we understand ice dams in Upstate New York and diagnose them by applying proven building science to prevent them going forward. Contact us today to learn more and to schedule a home energy assessment.