Energy Tips: It's the time of year for damaging ice dams

By KBJR News 1

Energy Tips: It's the time of year for damaging ice dams

March 4, 2014 Updated Mar 4, 2014 at 12:51 PM CDT

Prevent future ice dams by sealing attic air leaks

Minnesota Department of Commerce

With the mix of snow, thaws and sub-zero temperatures, ice dams are once again a major problem for Minnesota homeowners. If ice dams must be removed, the Minnesota Department of Commerce suggests hiring a professional ice dam removal company that uses steamers. It also suggests some basic measures to prevent future ice dams and costly home repairs.

Removing ice from the roof with shovels, chippers, axes, chemicals or heat can damage shingles, gutters and other building components. Also, it can be very dangerous. To prevent future ice dams, the best course of action is to attack the root cause of ice dams which is attic air leaks. Sealing air leaks will help prevent ice dams and save on your energy bill.

Cause of ice dams:

Ice dams occur when heat leaks into the attic and melts the underside of the snow on the roof. The melted snow then flows down the roof surface until it reaches a cold spot (such as the eaves or soffit), where it forms a frozen dam, behind which more snowmelt and ice pile up. The ice buildup can back up under the shingles, damaging them and allowing water to leak to the ceilings and walls below.

The solution:

To avoid these types of problems and eliminate most ice dams, attic air leaks around wires, plumbing vents, light fixtures and chimneys must be sealed with caulking or expanding spray foam. Attic insulation should be installed to a minimum R-50 as space allows.

The Commerce Department's Division of Energy Resources (DER) offers a fact sheet on ice dams called "Solving Ice Dams." For more information on ice dams and ways to conserve energy in your home, check out the DER energy guide 'Home Envelope" clicking here.

Posted to the web by Ramona Marozas