For some people, the winter seasons in the Washington, DC area bring cold weather that is welcomed and snow that makes everything look peaceful and beautiful. But, if you are a homeowner in the Maryland, Virginia, and DC suburbs, you may have a love/hate relationship with cold weather and all that it brings.  One of the reasons behind this love-hate relationship are ice dams.  Ice dams (which produce icicles) may look beautiful, but they can cause some hefty damage on the outside of the home as well as inside.

Ice dams can cause roof leaks and bring gutters down, which will affect a whole lot more than you could possibly imagine.  Below, you will find some information about ice dams, as well as ways you can prevent them - including checking your insulation.

Preventing Ice Dams

One of the biggest reasons ice dams happen in the DC area is because the roof becomes hot, melting the underlayer of ice and snow. This melted water runs down towards the gutters, where it freezes again in the form of an ice dam. One of the biggest ways to prevent this from happening is to regulate the temperature of the roof.

Some people assume that if you have an ice dam that it's better to keep the roof or the attic warm so that they won't form, but all this does is create a lot of water on your roof at one time and will lead to even more issues.  Its actually better to let it slowly melt on its own IF it does occur.  The underpart of your roof should not go above 30 degrees.

One of the best ways to go about this is to make sure that the roof and the space underneath the roof, such as the attic, has proper and adequate insulation.  Its also important that you make sure that the roof has sealing gaps.  These alongside the insulation in the roof will allow air to pass through from the house to the attic.  The attic or the room below your roof, even if its a crawlspace, should be ventilated as well.  This allows the air to escape quickly.

Furnaces in the Attic

In some cases, a homeowner may have a furnace in their attic.  It doesn't happen often unless the attic is finished or partially finished, but this can also cause issues.  One way of going about fixing this issue is not to uninstall the furnace, which could cost thousands of dollars, but to instead make sure there is enough insulation in the attic.  You need to first insulate the spaces in between where the rafters are.  Next, you will need to make sure that you place insulated blankets or batts over where the ducts of the furnace are - this will help eliminate the heat that builds up in that attic or other space.

What Kind of Damage Can Ice Dams Do to Homes in the Washington, DC Area?

If you've never had an ice dam you probably don't realize the issues they can cause, but we can assure you they are numerous and expensive to fix. One of the more common issues is their ability to ruin the shingles on the house. That's right, the shingles! If an ice dam gets big enough and it starts to melt, the melted water can actually form under the shingles. Once this happens and the water begins to collect under the shingles, it will drip down into the insulation of the home. Once that happens you could have major water problems into the insulation, but also behind the exterior walls and the ceiling of the house.

The water can also seep into the eave of the house and then further down into the sheetrock. Not only is this going to cause an imbalance in the whole house, but it can cause water spots, it can ruin the integrity of the building, and on the lower end, it can also cause fungus and mold to grow.

On the other hand, even the frozen ice dam can also be dangerous. If its big enough and heavy enough it can fall and damage your car, trees, bushes and shrubs, and unsuspecting people. Overall, this is definitely NOT something you want to be dealing with, which is why its so important to take care of it before it really becomes problematic. All in all the main moral of the story here is to make sure that the roof and the attic below it is insulated to the MAX. If you have any real problems with going about this or have no idea how to insulate properly, it's going to be in your best interest to contact a professional to prevent an ice dam before it happens.

Contact Shanco for Your Roofing Needs

If you need to prep your roof for winter, contact Shanco today. We'll help make sure you don't have to deal with ice dams this season!