If you're like me and thinking "Damn, what's an ice dam?", here's some info on what they are are how to stop them from ruining your roof.

I first saw someone post about ice dams in our Grand Rapids neighborhood's Facebook discussion group; as a new homeowner, I'd never heard of them before.

According to the University of Minnesota,

"An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas."

The heat from your house causes the snow to melt, and the cold outside freezes it again.

Fox 17 reports that if the large amount of snow we've gotten sits on your roof over the weekend, it could end up doing some serious damage.

They talked to Bruno Segarra, a senior estimator at ProCare, who says the depending on how old your roof is and what it's made out of, you could start to get water on the inside of your home.

Here are some tips on dealing with ice dams from the University of Minnesota:

  • Remove snow from the roof. This eliminates one of the ingredients necessary for the formation of an ice dam. A "roof rake" and push broom can be used to remove snow, but may damage the roofing materials.
  • If water is flowing into the house structure, making channels through the ice dam allows the water behind the dam to drain off the roof. Hosing with tap water on a warm day can do this job.
  • Make sure the ceiling air is tight so no warm, moist air can flow from the house into the attic space.
  • After sealing air leakage paths between the house and attic space, consider increasing the ceiling/roof insulation to cut down on heat loss by conduction.