An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, basement, insulation, and other areas.
For ice dams to form in New Jersey, there must be snow on the roof and higher portions of the roof’s outside surface must be above 32° F while lower surfaces are below 32°F. For a portion of the roof to be below 32°F, outside temperatures must also be below 32°F, and the temperatures must be sustained over a significant period of time. Roofs with large surface areas exposed to the sun and having small run-off areas are prone to ice buildup. A classic example is a roof with several gables or dormers. Very heavy snowfalls also can create problems: a foot or more of snow on a roof combined with warm winter temperatures can warm the roof and cause snow melt and ice on eaves.
The snow on a roof surface that’s above 32°F melts, and as the water flows down the roof, it reaches the portion of the roof that is below 32°F and freezes, making an dam.
As the dam grows, it is fed by the melting snow above it, but will limit itself to the portions of the roof that are on average below 32° F. The water above backs up behind the ice dam, remains a liquid, and finds cracks and openings in the exterior roof covering and flows into the attic space. From the attic it can flow into exterior walls or through the ceiling insulation and stain the ceiling finish.
Ice Dam Prevention
In New Jersey, we start by adding a waterproofing membrane along eaves, valleys or behind gutters. These are high-risk areas for leaks; valleys due to improper flashing installation and eaves because of ice dams. We used a thick, bituminous material with an adhesive backing. The membrane protection provides extra protection against water penetration.
We take every precautionary measure when dealing with the elements and it is good insurance against problem gutters or leaky roofs in Northern and Central New Jersey. Avoid aggravation and expense by taking a few preventative measures:
* Keep the attic well ventilated. The colder the attic, the less melting and refreezing on the roof.
* Keep the attic floor well insulated to minimize the heat rising through the attic from the house.
* Install a water-repellent membrane under your roof covering.
Ice dams may be unavoidable if your home has recessed lighting near the roof. Heat from these lights melts the snow, which causes ice dam buildup. To avoid this, eliminate recessed light fixtures near the roof.
To have M&M Construction Specialist evaluate your roof, gutters and possible roof repairs in Northern or Central New Jersey, please call us at 908-378-5951 or fill out our free estimate form.