The often extreme East Coast winter weather conditions can lead to dangerous ice buildup in and near roof gutters. Known as ice dams, these blockages can pose major problems for your roof and your attic, potentially causing extensive and costly damage.
Ice dams can cause significant damage to gutters, roof’s surface and underlying structure leading to leaks, rotted decking/framing/walls, and reduced insulation effectiveness.
Winter Gutter Maintenance: Ice Dams Prevention Tips
To avoid ice dams, it’s important that you understand how they form in the first place so you can be proactive about preventing them.
Ice dams are essentially large ice formations that build up in your gutters, clogging the drain spouts and giving excess water no way to escape. That excess water may then leak into your attic, potentially causing problems including high humidity, toxic mold and structural damage.
Two main factors contribute to their creation: the weather and attic conditions. Rising temperatures cause ice and snow to melt, but if the mercury quickly slips back below the freezing mark, this melt water can freeze before it clears out of your gutters. Also, heat escaping through the roof of your home can make ice and snow melt—and if temperatures are below the freezing mark, that water can turn to ice when it collects in your gutters. This leads to the formation of ice dams, and the scenario occurs most often in attics which lack proper insulation and ventilation.
Avoiding Ice Dams: 5 Preventative Attic Maintenance Tips
One of the easiest ways to avoid ice dams is to ensure your attic is properly insulated. Given our New Jersey experience, we recommend your attic be insulated to an R-value in the R-49 to R-60 range. Ceilings need a minimum of 14 inches of fiberglass batts, cellulose, or open-cell spray foam. If you’re using blown-in fiberglass, you’ll need about 20 inches to achieve R-49.
Another important note: Attic insulation must completely cover the top plates of a home’s exterior walls.
In addition to insulation, here are 5 other interventions which can help prevent ice dams:
- Seal all air leaks and insulate your duct work.
- Ventilate your eaves and ridge baffles.
- Ensure your attic hatch is capped or sealed.
- Make sure that none of your home’s exhaust vents travel through your roof soffits on their route outside.
- Replace recessed lights with sealed can lights to reduce the amount of heat generated in ceiling areas.
Bottom line: if your ceiling is airtight and is insulated to the latest building code requirements, ice dams are less likely to occur.
Check With a Professional Roofer
Call LGC Roofing today to schedule a comprehensive roof inspection or request a repair estimate to fix your gutter or ventilation issues. We’ll pinpoint the problem and keep your ventilation system—and your entire roof—in first-class condition!
Family owned and operated NJ & PA roofing contractor, we’ve been installing and repairing roofs for 30 years! We pride ourselves with expertise at making your home energy efficient, affordable and ready to withstand the elements.
Give us a call at (609) 712-8157 in NJ or (215) 932-7850 in PA to schedule roofing assessment & ventilation check. We’ll be happy to help with any of your roofing needs.