In the Pittsburgh area, ice dams can be a problem and a source of woe any given winter.  Ice dams occur when heat loss from a dwelling causes snow on a roof to melt, where it runs onto the eaves and gutters and refreezes creating a dam.  As additional snow melts it continues to refreeze on the eaves, as the damn prevents it from flowing down the gutter.  This occurs over and over until it starts moving back up the roof, under the shingles, and then melt into the outside wall cavities.  The easiest way to avoid or minimize damage is to keep the roof area the same temperature as the eaves by minimizing heat loss, and to allow for quick flow away from your home for the melting that occurs.

To keep the roof the same temperature as the eaves:

  • Ensure proper insulation.  If in doubt, seek prefessional advice.  Often you can get a free assessment from many contractors.  A well-insulated attic will keep heat inside your home where it is needed and out of the attic where it can cause damage.  A warm house is a good house.  A cold attic is a good attic.
  • Make sure there is proper ventilation in the attic.  Make sure perimeter soffit and ridge vents are cleared from insulation or other obstructions.
  • Make sure that any ductwork in attic is insulated and is not leaking.
  • Ensure that all bathroom exhaust vents are venting to the outside and not into your attic.

Make sure that what melting occurs is quickly moved away from your home.

  • Clean those gutters.  Do not skip this chore.  A free flowing gutter will minimize any freezing of water.  Remember the ice dam typically starts here.
  • Act fast if you start seeing those icicle forming, and your gutters overflowing with ice.  If you can safely access your roof, try removing snow from at least the last 3-5 feet of the roof.  This will minimize the insulating properties of the snow and allow the radiant heat from the sun to heat the eaves and reduce the ice.  The safest approach is to use a roof rake from the ground (see your local hardware store for availability).

Despite all efforts, sometimes Mother Nature will win.  If this occurs, contact your service professionals at Rainbow Restoration of Plum to help you minimize damage.  Our water restoration team is available anytime 24/7 to serve the Allegheny County and surrounding areas for emergency needs.  We can work with your homeowner’s insurance company to reduce your stress.  WE RESTORE, YOU RECOVER.