Ice Damage Restoration & Repair in Upstate New York
As another winter season brings the cold and snow, it also brings the ice. Since 1975, MIG has been responding to these problems. We would like to provide you with some information, education, and possible solutions to your ice questions.
What Causes the Problem?
To have ice dams you must have three things:
- Heat to melt the snow
- Cold to refreeze the melt
Only Mother Nature can control the amount of snow and the temperature outside. As the snow piles up and the temperature drops, the potential for ice grows.
Heat to melt the snow on your roof has several causes:
- The Sun – Sunlight hits the highest points of your roof and melts the snow. As this occurs, it exposes the mainly dark roofing in the area, absorbing even more heat from the sun. Depending on the direction your home faces, tree coverage, and wind direction, this can be a major cause of melt.
- Insulation – Another reason for snow melt is lack of insulation. The main living space of your home sits directly under the ridgeline. As the heat of your home penetrates the insulation, this warms the underside of the roof deck causes the melt. Building Codes for our area require a minimum R-38 (approximately 12 inches of insulation).
- Ventilation – The exhaust created by ridge vents, gable vents, and box vents forces fresh air up through your soffits, keeping the temperature in the attic the same as it is outside. This is the goal of all attic ventilation systems. Keeping the attic cold, especially the underside of the roof decking helps prevent the melting of the snow.
- Air Infiltration – Small holes in your ceilings can allow a significant amount of warm air into the attic space. Holes are drilled for electrical lines, ceiling fans, chimneys, can lights, attic hatches, bath fans, etc., and all of these allow heat to travel up and warm the roof.
As the highest points of your roof melt, the water runs underneath the lower snow packs, freezing at the eaves: the coldest part of your roof. Once this process begins, it builds upon itself, causing icicles and ice damming.
Fixing the Problem
- Bring your attic up to a R38-R49 insulation value
- Install proper ventilation
- Attic Air Seal to close holes with caulk and foam products
- Keep your gutters clean – Contrary to popular belief, gutters do not cause ice dams. However, dirty gutters do help concentrate ice and water at the vulnerable roof eaves area. As gutters fill with ice, they often bend and rip away from the house, bringing fascia, fasteners and downspouts in tow.
- Remove the snow – Keep your roof clean with a snow rake, or hire a professional to do this work. Roof valleys can be a major issue, and some ice may be unavoidable.
- Heat Tape/Cables – These can be quite effective in certain situations.
Every home is different and responds differently to preventative measures. We live in Upstate NY, where we have snow and the cold. With the proper solutions, we can help your ice concerns, but we may not be able to prevent them completely.
IMPORTANT NEWS: Tips from NYSERDA for Preventing Ice Dams
If you see ice build-up and icicles hanging from the eaves of your home, you may have an ice dam, a major cause of roof leaks and energy loss in winter. Take steps now to prevent ice dams, recommends the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
Ice dams usually occur after a heavy snowfall and several days of freezing temperatures. Warm air inside your home leaks into the attic and warms the underside of the roof, causing snow and ice on the roof to melt. The melted water drains along the roof to the cold overhang and refreezes, forming an ice dam and icicles. The ice dam enables the trapped water to get under the roof shingles, causing water to leak inside.
If you already have an ice dam problem, hire an expert to solve the immediate issue. Don't climb on your roof, and avoid standing on the ground and "chipping away" at the ice. Not only could your chipping damage the roof, but you can be seriously injured by falling ice, debris or tools.
NYSERDA recommends the following ice dam prevention tips:
- Seal air leaks and duct air leaks in your attic to stop warm air leakage, the source of ice dam problems. After sealing leaks, add additional insulation in your attic.
- Provide adequate attic ventilation so the undersides of the roof and outside air are at the same temperature. Check to make sure attic insulation is not blocking roof ventilation. Incorrect ventilation can cause mold and mildew problems.
- If you didn't clean leaves and other debris from gutters before the first snow, see if you can have it done now. This will help prevent ice build-up in gutters.
- Hire a participating Home Performance contractor accredited through the Building Performance Institute (BPI) to conduct an in-home comprehensive energy assessment. The comprehensive home energy assessment will not only suggest specific home improvements to prevent future ice dams, but will also recommend ways to reduce energy use, save money and improve the health and safety of your home. This "whole house" approach can cut total energy costs by up to 40 percent, saving a homeowner up to $700 annually. NYSERDA provides financial incentives and financing options with low interest rates to help pay for energy efficiency improvements.
NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect our environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York since 1975.