Winter is right around the corner, and if you’re like most people, you know that you need to prevent ice dams on your roof. Ice dams can create catastrophic leaks, so this guide explains five simple ways to help prevent them.
5 Ways to Prevent Ice Dams
First things first: You should have your roof inspected once a year by a professional roofer. Most roofing companies offer this service for free. After you have a professional inspect your roof, you’ll know whether there are any minor or major problems you need to address.
Other than having the roof inspected, you can help prevent ice dams from occurring this winter by following these steps:
- Make sure your attic is properly vented
- Add more insulation on your attic floor
- Ensure all your exhaust fans vent to the outdoors
- Seal and insulate your ducts
- Make sure your chimney is properly flashed
Here’s a closer look at each.
Tip #1 to Prevent Ice Dams: Make sure your attic is properly vented
Your attic should have a proper ventilation system that circulates cold air under your entire roof. Ideally, you’ll have a ridge vent and soffit vents, and none of them will be blocked.
Tip #2 to Prevent Ice Dams: Add more insulation on your attic floor
Keeping the heated air from inside your living space where it belongs (inside your living space) can help prevent ice dams from forming on your roof. That’s because ice dams form when warm air from the attic melts the snow and ice on your roof; then, when the melted snow or ice makes its way to your roof’s overhang (which doesn’t have warm air under it), it re-freezes and creates a ridge.
Tip #3 to Prevent Ice Dams: Ensure all your exhaust fans vent to the outdoors
In many older homes (and some newer ones), exhaust fans from the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room vent through the soffit – but they shouldn’t. They should lead outdoors through the walls or directly through the roof.
Tip #4 to Prevent Ice Dams: Seal and insulate your ducts
Make sure all the joints of your HVAC and exhaust ducts are properly sealed. If you have a professional come out to check and they find that your sealant is insufficient, they’ll most likely cover the joints with R-5 or R-6 foil-faced fiberglass to make sure air can’t escape.
Tip #5 to Prevent Ice Dams: Make sure your chimney is properly flashed
Flashing prevents water from getting in and air from getting out – and around your chimney, it’s particularly important. Check the area around your chimney and make sure it’s flashed with L-shaped steel flashing and has a fire-stop sealant around it. (For fire safety reasons, you shouldn’t use canned spray foam or insulation around a chimney.)
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