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How to Prevent Ice Dams on Your Home

Ice dams, large ridges of ice forming along the eaves of your home, have become a prevalent issue, especially in Long Island climates. While the icicles that form on the edges of your roof may be stunning to observe, they may actually be an omen of potentially serious damage to your home in the near future. In this article, we are going to discuss how ice dams form, the damage they can cause, and helpful ways to prevent them.

How Do Ice Dams Form?

These thick sheets of ice on the eaves of your house are usually caused by uneven surface temperatures on your roof. When the eaves of your home are colder than the roofing above, ice begins to build up in these areas. This is because the snow above the eaves is located on a warmer surface, causing it to melt, sliding further down the roof until it reaches this wall of ice and adds to it. Between the ice dam itself and the snow above it, a layer of water forms, as this is the area with the greatest heat loss coming from within your home causing it to remain above freezing temperatures. These areas of heat loss are the result of poorly insulated interior sections which enable the heat from inside your home to rise, fluctuating your roof’s surface temperatures.

Diagram of ice dam forming on house

Ice Dam Damage

When the ice dam finally breaks, the wintry mix tumbling down can rip gutters, damage shingles, and damage the overall integrity of your roof. And before the ice dam breaks, the backed-up water can drip directly into your home, damaging the interior and potentially leading to the buildup of mold.

How Can I Prevent Ice Dams?

Fortunately, there are several precautionary measures you can take to avoid ice dam formations, saving you thousands of dollars in the costs of repairing future damage.

icicles on the eave of a red house
icicles on the eave of a white home

Quality Insulation

Insulating your attic with batt insulation can help prevent heat loss, nipping this potential problem in the bud. At Radiant Insulation & Drywall, our experts know exactly which types and strengths of batt fiberglass insulation to use to achieve optimal results.

Learn More: Is Batt Insulation the Right Choice for Your Home?

Air Sealing

Preventing air leakage using high-grade spray foam insulation within the rafters further ensures the integrity of your roof. When necessary, we will also apply fire caulking to interior gaps, further blocking heat loss with the added benefit of mitigating damage if the unexpected occurs.

Learn More: The Benefits of Air Sealing Your Home

Additional Measures

If your home has attic stairs, we can install an attic stair tent, insulating your attic stairway by preventing heat loss coming from its surrounding gaps. We can also apply specialty insulation around high hat light can covers, fully insulating your attic lighting.

Tips From the Radiant Insulation Experts

  • Using the proper R-value of spray foam insulation within the rafters creates a thermal break between the snow on the roof and the heat in the “Unconditioned Attic” this heat originates from the air exfiltration of your leaking “Conditioned Living space”.
  • We find the vulnerable heat loss points of your attic’s thermal envelope such as pipes, furnace flues, chimneys, and HVAC supply registers, and our expert installer’s will use low expansion door and window foam to fill these voids.
  • Applying Eco Seal Elastomeric Caulking to our various attic upgrade product offerings, such as sealing around Draft Stop Recessed Lighting Covers, Sealing Around Attic Stair Covers, and creating a Wind Wash Baffle will further combat heat loss from your “Conditioned Living Space” ultimately saving you on your monthly home heating costs.
  • Fire caulking penetrations from wires routed through the top plates of interior walls doubles as an Air Sealant and Fire Stopping agent, mitigating damage if an unexpected fire occurs.

Maintaining a Safe, Comfortable Home

At Radiant Insulation & Drywall, our top priority is ensuring the safety, comfort, and full satisfaction of all our customers. Contact us today to schedule a free evaluation and learn how we can help you directly.

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