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Homeowner tips: How to prevent ice dams

Prevent ice dams winter homes

As we enter the coldest months of the year, you may be wondering how you can prevent ice dams, and what you can do to get rid of them once they appear. Popular Mechanics has come up with a few ways to avoid the build-up of ice this winter.

Ice dams occur when water builds up behind a blockage of ice in your gutters or eaves; the water then leaks into your home, damaging walls, ceiling and insulation.

Contrary to what you may believe, Popular Mechanics advises against heating the roof in any way. When heat moves from the attic through the roof, the snow melts rapidly, but once it hits the cold eaves, the melted snow freezes rapidly to cause an ice dam. If possible, keep the area underneath the roof deck below 30 degrees Fahrenheit and make sure your home is properly insulated and free of gaps that allow warm air to seep out. Additionally, your attic should be well-ventilated so that cold air goes in and warm air is released at a fast pace.

If your home's attic has a furnace, you may not be able to prevent the formation of ice dams. However, additional insulation may be helpful.

If your home already has an ice dam on the roof, you should look for shadow lines in your ceiling. Trusses are exposed to the cold temperatures in the winter and can be home to pockets of condensation. This may lead to future problems with mildew, so Popular Mechanics suggests thoroughly cleaning these areas and performing the preventative improvements as soon as possible.

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