With most of northwest Arkansas in the last weeks of winter, it’s important to keep an eye out on your roof. The formation of ice dams after heavy snowfall can cause significant problems, placing a great deal of strain on your roof.

Ice dams form as a ridge of solid ice across the edge of your roof, which leaves melted snow unable to drain off the roof. Ice dams usually form due to temperature differentials between the interior and exterior of the roof. Heat radiating through the roof from a warm attic melts the snow on the roof, which then drains downward, only for the water to refreeze as it reaches the colder edge of the roof.

When there’s enough ice buildup, the melted water backs up behind the dam and instead leaks into your attic and living spaces. The water that’s impounded by the ice dam finds its way into your home’s walls, ceiling and insulation, causing considerable water damage as well as potential mold growth.

One of the best long-term ways to prevent ice dams from forming in the first place is to make sure your ceiling is airtight. Doing so will keep warm air from traveling between the main areas of the home and the attic space. You can also cut down your heat loss and further prevent air leakage by increasing your home’s ceiling and roof insulation. Leaky ductwork and improper insulation in the attic space also can be major contributors to ice dam formation.

Natural roof ventilation also plays a small, yet important role in reducing ice dam formation. Keep in mind that only small amounts of roof ventilation are usually necessary for maintaining uniform roof surface temperatures; otherwise, snow will build up and block natural ventilation channels. An attic fan may also help provide optimum ventilation.

To learn more about preventing ice dams and other roof-related issues during the winter months, feel free to contact the professionals at Paschal Heat, Air & Geothermal. Licensed and insured, we have 40 years of experience in taking care of energy and home comfort issues in northwest Arkansas.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Northwest Arkansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about ice dams and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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