The Dangers of Ice Dams on Your Roof

Ice Dam Formation is a Sign of Pending Water Damage and Roof Repair Costs

Ice dams with icicles hanging from an eavestrough of a houseProperty owners should not be fooled by the unusually mild and snow-free start to winter in Toronto and the GTA.  Unless something radically changes with the orbit of our planet around the sun, there will be likely be a period of time in the near future when snow, ice, and bitterly cold winds make their annual appearance across the region – and probably stay for a while too.

There are many aspects of winter that, despite the harshness of the weather conditions, can have an appealing quality.  Blankets of fresh snow, the glistening of a frozen pond in bright sunshine, and even icicles hanging from a gutter provide those special scenes that only last for brief periods each year.  But, in the specific case of icicle formation, it is an example of something that is not what it appears to be on the surface; it is in fact a sign of pending damage to the exterior and/or interior of the home, and costly repairs, due to ice dam formation along the edges/eaves of the roof.

Before delving into the particular types of damage that can occur from ice dams, it would be helpful to understand how these barriers actually form.

  • Heat from inside the home collects in the attic, warming the surface of the roof
  • Since the eaves are outside the home, they remain at the external temperature
  • As snow accumulates on the roof, it is melted by the warmth of the roof’s surface
  • The water then drains along the slope of the roof and collects in the eavestroughs
  • When that water reaches the cold eaves, it freezes and begins to form an ice dam

As the cycle repeats itself, it can produce dams of such size/mass that the eavestroughs become fully blocked, preventing the melted snow/water from draining properly.  But the water still needs a place to go; unfortunately that usually means under the shingles and into the home.  This can subsequently have such detrimental effects as:

  • Rotted roof decking/rafters
  • Wet and ineffective insulation
  • Peeled or blistered paint/plaster
  • Warped flooring or stained carpets
  • Leaks around doors/window frames
  • Walls/ceilings that must be replaced
  • Respiratory ailments due to mold growth

Moreover, the sheer weight of an ice dam, with or without the added presence of icicles, can directly or indirectly result in structural damage to the exterior of the home as well, including such circumstances as:

  • Loosened or torn shingles
  • Fallen sections of eavestroughing
  • Weakening or rotting of soffits/fascia
  • Dents/scratches/cracks in walls/siding

Since it rather predictable that there will be cold temperatures plus snow accumulation on residential roofs during the winter, the primary variable in the formation of ice dams rests with the amount of heat collecting in the attic.  This is usually a result of poor or ineffective insulation and/or inadequate ventilation.

Therefore, in order to avoid the damage that can stem from ice dam formation, and any resultant roof and/or structural repairs, Toronto homeowners should ensure that their attic is properly/sufficiently insulated and that their roof ventilation system (both intake and exhaust) is functioning efficiently.  If homeowners are uncertain about these aspects of their roofing system, or if they have endured ice dam formation in winters past, it might be beneficial to consult a certified roofing professional from Avenue Road Roofing.

A Range of Roof Repair and Maintenance Services to Avert Ice Dam Formation

Icicles Hanging from an Ice Dam on House EvestroughAs with most facets of homeownership, taking appropriate preventative measures can lead to substantial savings on unnecessary and often avoidable maintenance and repair costs.  This is certainly applicable to the prevention of ice dam formation along the eaves of a roof and the cost of any structural damage that can occur as a result.  Such actions may also extend the life of the roof, hence avoiding the expense of having to replace the roof prematurely.

Avenue Road Roofing offers a range of services throughout the year that can be directly attributed to preventing the formation of ice dams in the winter.  These services include:

  • Roof inspections
  • Insulation upgrades
  • Attic ventilation upgrades
  • Eavestrough cleaning and repairs
  • Removal of ice and snow from roofs

In the event that Toronto homeowners do experience ice dam formation and subsequent roof or water damage over the coming winter, Avenue Road Roofing can also be called upon to provide roof or building envelope repairs in a timely and cost-effective manner.

If you require any roof repairs throughout the coming winter, including attention relating to ice dam formation, call the specialists from Avenue Road Roofing at 416-785-5129 to schedule a service visit at your convenience.