What is an Ice Dam and How Can it Damage My Roof?

ice dams in maryland, maryland roofer, roof repair in maryland

An ice dam is the build up of ice on a roof which causes a back-up of melted ice or snow. No matter what you do, sometimes preventing ice dams isn’t enough and one can still form. Knowing what an ice dam is, the damage caused by an ice dam, and how to prevent ice dams can help you in protecting your Maryland home during winter.

What causes an ice dam?

Ice dams are caused by the melting and re-freezing of ice and snow on a roof. When snow melts, it flows down the roof and then re-freezes when it hits the cooler air at the edge of the roof. When this water re-freezes, it creates an ice dam. This ice dam causes future melted snow to back up underneath the shingles on your roof, leading to extensive water damage.

How do I know if I have an Ice Dam?

An ice dam can be hard to identify from ground-level but there are a few tell-tale signs to look for before calling in a professional. First, look for icicles. While icicles don’t necessary mean an ice dam is present, they are an obvious sign water is melting and re-freezing on the roof. If icicles start to form on the exterior wall of your house (and not just the edge of the gutter) then an ice dam is likely. Lastly, look for signs of water entering the edges of your attic; this will look like water stains or rotting wood. If you happen to see any signs of an ice dam, call a local roofing company immediately.

How Can an Ice Dam Damage My Roof?

At the very least, an ice dam will damage gutters leading to increased maintenance or out-right replacement of the gutters. Ice dams can also cause damage to the roofing shingles. As the water backs up and flows underneath your roofing shingles, it can re-freeze leading to cracking of old, brittle shingles. Once the water has backed up far enough to reach the wood roof deck under your shingles, it can cause rotting and warping of the wood.

How Can I Prevent Ice Dams on my Roof?

To prevent an ice dam from forming on your roof, you will need to remove the cause of the ice dam. One such culprit could be a clogged gutter, so be diligent in the removal of debris from your gutters. Another cause is an improperly insulated attic which is warm enough to melt the snow on the roof. Be sure your attic is properly insulated and have adequate air-flow. Lastly, it is recommended to have a licensed roofer inspect your roof prior to the winter season, so any repairs can be made before the harsh Maryland winter hits.

For more help with identifying, preventing, or repairing roof damage caused by ice dams, reach out to Alternative roofing at 410-489-9000 or contact us online for help.


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