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5 Ways To Combat Ice Damming

Ice damming is a situation that occurs when snow melts from the upper parts of your roof and re-freezes at the lower parts of the roof, especially at the eaves where the gutters are located. When the ice freezes at the edge of the roof it builds up to form a dam. Now, as more snow melts from the upper part of the roof it gets trapped behind the ice dam and the result is standing water on the roof. When there is enough water it will find a way under the shingles and possibly into your wall cavity. The end result is water pouring down your interior wall...and nobody wants that. Below is a list of the top 5 things to correct for your best chance at preventing ice dams.

1. Proper attic ventilation

Increasing the flow of fresh outside air, into the attic, is a key part to a healthy home. The ideal system would include both an intake vent, at or near the eaves, and a good exhaust vent at or near the top of the roof. Exhaust vents include ridge-vents, powered attic fans and passive box vents. It may be harder to increase ventilation on older homes, especially if there is not attic above the 2nd floor. However, there is always a way. If you walk into your attic and can feel fresh air from outside, you are probably in good shape. For further reading on recommended ventilation: Or contact us anytime with questions or to schedule a free in-home consultation.

2. Sufficient insulation

You need adequate insulation on the attic floor to keep the warm air in your living spaces from escaping into the attic. By allowing warm air to escape into the attic you are warming the roof and when there is snow on the roof it will melt faster because of this. Although it seems counter-intuitive, this is not a desirable situation. With snow melting faster on the upper reaches of the roof than on the lower portions you will create an ice-dam situation as described above. Check with the energy star guidelines to see if you have enough insulation. For energy star recommendations on insulation: There is also a rebate available. Get money back with the 2016 tax credit for insulation:

3. Sealing the ceiling

Adding insulation is a great start to keeping the warm air out of your attic but it’s not enough. There are many other opportunities for warm air to escape. Make sure to seal all 2nd floor light fixtures, bathroom vents or any other ceiling protrusions, and don’t forget the attic hatch or stairs. Build a movable insulation box out of Styrofoam insulation board and fiberglass and keep it over the access area whenever possible.

4. Keep the gutters clean

If the water from the melting ice is not allowed to flow freely into the gutters it will only add to the size of the ice dam. Any chance for that water to slow down is an opportunity for it to freeze. Clean gutters alone will not eliminate ice dam problems but it can’t hurt and reduces the chance that if the water is backing up, it will end up inside your house.

5. Ice Guard underlayment

As per residential building code all roofs in New Jersey, and most colder climates, are required to have a minimum ice guard application of 2’ past the interior wall. Ice guard is a special self-adhesive membrane that is installed underneath the roof shingles at all eaves and valleys. At Taylor Rae we use it in a few other places as well. This membrane is your last line of defense against water infiltration and is a key component of any modern roof installation. However many homes with older roofs have no ice guard at all so an upgrade to modern standards, as required by code, will greatly reduce your chances of a water leak.

Honorable mention

Heated gutter wire can be a less expensive and simple to install option when compared to the items above. Although it is not going to improve the air quality in your home, it will most likely prevent ice damming completely if it’s installed correctly and attached to a thermostat. We install only commercial grade hi-wattage wires, don't fall for the cheaper big box offerings...I've seen them fail too many times in our climate hear in New Jersey.

Questions? email me anytime
As always, if you live in northern New Jersey, you can call us anytime for a no pressure/no obligation free attic/roof inspection (973)394-0949

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© 2012 Taylor Rae Construction, LLC All Rights Reserved
Taylor Rae Construction,llc
429 Rockaway Valley Road
Boonton Township, NJ 07005
Contractor license # 13VH006222000

Services We Offer

Windows, vinyl replacement windows,new construction windows, bays, bows, garden windows, patio doors, entry doors,vinyl siding,roofing,decking,porches,gutter guards, exterior repairs.

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