Ice Dam Blog

Blog Entry #2: Ice Dam Update

Well spring is trying to spring in Minnesota and the lists of projects is growing for many of us.  On that list for more homeowners than in the past 15 years or so, is repairing damage from ice dams and/or determining how to prevent them next winter.

I heard last week from a roofing contractor that a homeowner who had been in his house for 50 years, had ice dams for the first time!  The ice dams we have seen the past two winters in Minnesota have been some of the worst in decades which means that we might not see them for a few more decades in this severe form.  This was after this gracious roofer, turned down an opportunity to talk a client into a $5000 potential fix for future ice dams, but fessed up that the system wouldn’t be worth the $5000.  As the sagacious roofer said during our meeting, “nothing will work for certain when it comes to ice dams.”  There is no silver bullet when dealing with ice dams.

However, it is important to take action to do the things that can be done.  At the end of this post is an outstanding introductory article by Martin Holladay of Green Building Advisor regarding ice dams.   According to Holladay, four things should be done regarding ice dams in order to try to solve/prevent them.  They rank in order from least expensive to most expensive (in general).

  • Sealing air leaks between the warm interior and the attic or cathedral ceiling.
  • Adding more ceiling insulation.
  • Improving ventilation between the top of the insulation and the roof sheathing.
  • Installing a rubberized membrane under the roofing.

I would also recommend having a blower door test and infrared scan done, which will allow you to know from where the air leaks are coming, so that you can adequately address Holladay’s first recommendation.

Ice dams are strange beasts and may take several seasons to find a solution, and then again, despite your best efforts the weather conditions may be just right to encourage their development.  Or, they might show up on your house for another 50 years.

Remember the article below!

Thanks for reading!

Dan Hanson