What Are Ice Dams?

Frankenmuth Insurance Company gives us this definition of of ice dams and how they are formed.

A cycle of melting and refreezing occurs when snow accumulates on a roof. Two key factors that interact to cause a problem include the outside temperature and the temperature inside the attic of an affected home.

The warmer the temperature is inside the attic, the more the snow will melt at the roof surface. Typically, the melted snow should flow off the edge of the roof. When the air temperature is very low, the melted snow refreezes at the edge of the roof, where the interior roof surface is not being warmed by the attic. The refreezing forms an “ice dam,” which is a collection of ice that blocks the path of other melting snow.

As this dam continues formation to a certain height, the melting snow behind it will leak back under the roof shingles and eventually into the home’s interior. On those roofs with a low slope, even a small amount of “ice damming” will result in water backup and damage in short order.


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