Michigan Ice Dams

How to stop Michigan Ice Dams

Nothing says Michigan winter to many people like heavy snow blankets and icicles hanging from the roof of their homes. But, the snow and icicles present a subtle danger, ice dams.

After several days of melting-freezing cycles, it’s common for the melted snow and ice to work up under the roof shingles until water enters the attic and eventually damages the ceilings, walls, and contents. Ice dams that go unnoticed for an extended period can significantly damage the home and its contents.

The right weather conditions for ice dams is usually when outside air temperatures are below freezing for several days with several inches of snow on the roof. Research shows keeping the attic air temperature below freezing when the outside air temperature is in the low 20s can reduce the risk of ice dams.

There is no guarantee an ice dam won’t damage your home, but you can consider these steps in trying to avoid ice dams from forming in the first place:

Steps to prevent Michigan ice dams

  • Before winter, clean leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts.
  • Eliminate any heat sources in unfinished attics. The ductwork in the attic should be sealed and insulated.
  • Prevent warm, moist air in living spaces from entering unfinished attics with a good air barrier and appropriate water vapor control at the base of the attic.
  • Do not install mechanical equipment or water heaters in attics, especially in cold climates.
  • Evaluate the insulation and ventilation in your attic. Most experts agree the R-value of attic insulation should be at least R-30 (R-38 is preferable in northern climates).
  • Provide adequate attic ventilation to replace warm air in unfinished attics with cold outside air.
  • Make every effort to keep snow on your roof to a minimum. Long-handled devices on the market called “roof rakes” let you stand on the ground and pull the snow off the roof. Remember to stand clear of the falling snow and ice.
  • Install a secondary moisture barrier if your roof covering is going to be replaced soon.

How to Get Rid of Ice Dams

If you have ice dams and can’t rake the snow off the roof, the best way to get rid of them is to steam off the ice. A steamer is like a pressure washer, except that the water is hot. It melts the ice away without damaging the roofing. Trying to chip the ice off can result in damage to your roof or gutters.

Hire a professional

Michigan ice dams can be damaging, but a few simple steps can reduce the possibility of build-up. Talk with a home improvement professional to see what you can do to prevent ice dams from occurring.

Finally, for more information on how to protect your Michigan home from water damage, click the following link.