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Columbus Roofing: Article About Avoiding Ice Dams

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Ice dams can cause major damage to a roofing system regardless of the cover material. Columbus roofing professionals will attest that much of the damage caused by an ice dam may not be apparent from the outside. Damage to the underlayment or decking is often difficult to detect, especially to the untrained eye. For this reason alone, it is a good idea to have a home's roof inspected when the seasons change from cool to warm and vice versa.

Understanding how ice dams form can be helpful when making decisions based on a recent roof inspection. A combination of snow cover, sub freezing outside temperatures and heat transfer through the roof create the conditions for ice dams to form. The hottest part of a roof is generally near the peak. Here, warm air from inside the house concentrates and raises the temperature of the decking and roof cover above water's freezing point. The melted snow then runs down the roof and refreezes into ice on the lower and cooler parts of the slope. While gutters do not cause the ice dams themselves, they present an opportune place for the ice to build up and cause problems.

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So what kind of problems can ice dams cause? Ice dams cause poor drainage on the roof itself. This leads to standing water, which can penetrate the roof covering and soak into the material below. Rotted decking is a common symptom, but the damage can go much further than that. Water can seep into the insulation, decreasing its effectiveness. From there, moisture can damage the paint and wiring in the walls and ceiling. Weight from the collected ice can, in extreme cases, pull the gutter and fascia boards off of the house.

The best way to prevent ice dams from occurring is by keeping the roof cool during periods of heavy snowfall. Speak with a local roofing expert about sealing air leaks into the attic and making sure the insulation is adequate to keep the warmth from inside away from the roof. As an added bonus, these upgrades will also cut down on the heating bill by making the house more energy efficient.

Clearing snow from the roof is a job best left to the professionals. But when homeowners take matters into their own hands, it should always be done with the proper tools. Snow rakes are made specifically for this purpose. Using sticks or other gardening implements, like a shovel, increase the likelihood of damaging the roof itself or causing personal injury.

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