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Contrary to popular belief, ice dams aren't actually caused by little ice beavers on your roof. Ice dams are caused when melted snow re-freezes after uneven heat loss from your home.  This causes the roof to warm above freezing temprature, allowing snow to melt and re-freeze before it reaches the roof's edge.  If this keeps happening an ice dam will form and water will collect behind it.  This water can often leak or seep into your house.   Here are some tips on how to prevent ice dams.

Here's how to prevent the formation of ice dams:

  • Keep the attic well ventilated. One-third square metre of free ventilation opening is recommended for every 45 square metres of attic space.
  • Seal air leaks to prevent warm air leakage from plumbing vents, junction boxes from ceiling fixtures and attic hatches.
  • Keep the attic floor well insulated (between 40 and 56 centimetres of insulation) to minimize the amount of heat rising into the attic from below.
  • Clean leaves and other debris from gutters before the first snow. This will help prevent ice buildup in your gutters.
  • Consider using an ice shield under your shingles when your house is getting re-roofed.
  • Use a roof rake to clear the snow above the gutter. Clear about one metre above the gutter to allow water to drain freely into the gutter.
  • Consider hiring an energy specialist to evaluate the performance of your home and recommend some things you can do to minimize energy waste.

During cold winter months, the icicles on your home's eaves may be a sign that a ride of ice is forming at teh edge of the roof.  This ridge, also known as an ice dam, can prevent melting snow from draining properly.  If an ice dam forms, sprinkle a melting compound to break it up.  Avoid using traditional rock salt as it may cause further damage and faster deterioration of your gutters.


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