How To Prevent Ice Dams From Forming On Your Roof

Most people don't pay attention to their roof unless there is a leak.  Winter is one of the worst times to have a leaky roof, and ice dams are a common catalyst for leaks.  Ice dams are thick ridges of ice hanging from the edge of your roof.  Pretty as they are, they are an absolute menace to your roof and gutters.  As the ice melts, water backs up and leaks inside of your home.  The good news is that they are preventable.  Follow the steps below to stop ice dams from forming by insulating, sealing, and ventilating your attic before winter arrives.

Insulate your attic

Make sure that your attic floor is sufficiently packed with insulation.  You need about 16-18 inches of insulation in a cooler climate.  If you have low amounts of insulation, contact a professional to add blown insulation around the attic's rafters and joists.  If you want to add the insulation yourself, you can rent a machine from the hardware store.  Be sure to wear gloves, goggles and a respirator to prevent bodily injury.

Seal attic bypasses

Even if your attic is sufficiently insulated, you have to make sure that the attic is airtight. You actually want to keep the roof cold, not hot.  When warm air leaks into the attic from the heated space below, it melts the snow on your roof and creates ice dams.  It's vital to find and seal all the places air could be leaking in.  An airtight attic has the added bonus of saving you money on your energy bill by preventing heat loss and keeping warm air where it belongs.

It's best to contact a building professional to perform an attic inspection and identify the areas where the air is leaking in.  You can then either add foam or insulating caulk to relevant areas yourself or hire a professional to seal up all the bypasses. 

Ventilate the attic

Make sure that the attic is well-ventilated so any warm air that does manage to sneak its way in can easily escape through the vents.  Look to see if there are any existing vents along the eaves or in the roof.  Inspect your attic for the presence of any dampness, mold, or mildew.  If the vents are missing or if moisture is present in the attic, then you need to install new roof vents and soffit vents that run along the eaves. 

For more information, contact a roofing contractor in your area.