Weather conditions right for ‘ice dams’

With the recent stretch of cold weather in Albion, icicles have formed along the roofs of many houses and business buildings like this one in the downtown area. Icicles can be one indicator of “ice dams” that do not allow water to properly drain from roofs.

Long stretches of cold weather, like those experienced in Nebraska this month, can lead to the formation of ice dams on roofs.
What is an ice dam?
Ice dams form in nature through glaciers and frozen rivers, but in a residential setting, an ice dam can form when melting snow from your roof refreezes at the gutters and eaves. Unfortunately, this causes water to drain improperly, finding its escape through your home.
The end result can be damaged ceilings and walls and, if left unabated long enough, significant structural damage and potential loss of property.
What causes ice dams? Sometimes nothing more than a fluctuation of temperature is enough to cause an ice dam. A poorly constructed roof or inadequate insulation can result in significant heat loss. The heat transfer results in meltwater beneath an insulating snow blanket, and once the meltwater hits cold air, the dam is formed, causing water to back up and leak under shingles or roofing materials.
How can you prevent ice dams?
• Remove obstructions or “plugs” in gutters and downspouts.
• Install additional insulation or replace old insulation in ceilings to assure the property R-value.
If you already have an ice dam, the only solution is to remove snow load and unplug gutters and/or downspouts that have iced over and caused the problem.
This is the least appealing and most taxing alternative, but may be necessary to prevent extensive damage.