If you notice water leaks stemming from your attic, the source could be due to attic ventilation, attic moisture or ice dams. Ice dams in particular can cause significant damage, and with varying winter temperatures, ice dams become more and more likely to occur. Luckily, they also are easily avoidable. As a homeowner, you should know what signs to look for to gauge your home’s susceptibility to ice dams, and what you can do avoid them.
What are ice dams?
The combination of outdoor temperatures, snow and attic heat loss lead to the formation of costly ice dams. Here’s what happens:
- Snow or ice accumulates on the roof.
- The temperature of the high point of your roof climbs above freezing, while the lower portions of the roof remain at a lower temperature.
- Snow and ice on the high point begins to melt due to the warmth, which then sends dripping water down the roof.
- At the eaves, this water refreezes and forms an ice dam.
- At this point, water moves back up the roof and can seep into the home’s attic, potentially causing further water damage throughout the home.
How can you protect your home?
A three-pronged approach to prevention will maintain attic temperatures to avoid heat loss, since you can’t control the other two factors, snow and outdoor temperatures:
- Sealing air leaks – To prevent indoor air from infiltrating the attic and increasing the attic temperature, seal air leaks on the attic floor. Using caulk, seal around chimney, ductwork, plumbing and electrical protrusions, as well as where construction materials meet.
- Adding insulation – Insulation throughout the attic is critical to preventing heat loss. Heat that can escape through the attic ceiling in particular will raise the roof’s surface temperature.
- Improving ventilation – To further protect your attic and roof, ventilation can help circulate air and reduce moisture in the space. Be sure that insulation doesn’t block ventilation.
Get an advantage over ice dams, and make 2012 the year you put a stop to this potential problem. Arpi’s Industries has been serving Greater Calgary-area homeowners for almost 50 years, and ensuring healthy, durable attic spaces.
Our goal is to help educate our customers 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.