Icicle and Ice Dam Problems

DULUTH, Minn. — During the holidays, people see icicles on a roof and often thin “that looks pretty.”  However the reason the icicles have formed may mean there’s a problem with your home.  “Some houses can have icicles, said Austin Miller of Miller’s Roofing and Siding, “but when you see the thickness of ice at the edge of the roof that’s a dam.”

The reason a dam will form is that warm air is escaping from the attic and melting some of the snow. The water from the melted snow drips off the roof and freezes, forming icicles. A dam can form behind the icicles and water can no longer drip off the roof, instead it pools and freezes, forming a dam.

“Once that water is trapped, it’s going to back up further and further up the roof and then eventually it leaks in,” Miller says.  “Sometime that’s going to build up the dam for days, weeks and then we can get a warm winter day out of the blue and all of  sudden your roof is pouring water in,” he continued.

There’s a couple of reasons that warm air may be escaping from your house, and it’s not necessarily happening because you need a new roof. Miller says, “You are experiencing a fair amount of heat loss to your home and you having home ventilation issues. These are things you want to address if you can. Adding more insulation, making sure the home is ventilated properly. Sometimes to ventilate the house properly you need a new roof. Bu that doesn’t always solve your ice dam problems.”

There is one way to ensure you won’t have leaks because of ice dams. You need to shovel the snow off the roof. But it may not be that easy and you may want to consider hiring someone to do the job. “Call a roofing company, you could call us,” said Miller “or anyone who is licensed and insured is recommended and get that snow off and that’s going to make it stop, almost immediately.”

There is one more thing a homeowner should do after the snow is pushed off the roof. If your furnace is vented on the side of your home, be sure the vent is not now blocked by snow.

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