Summit County’s consistent snowfall increases chance of dangerous ice dams
January 12, 2017
The long, finger-like icicles spreading from the eaves of your house may be sprouting from an even bigger problem — an ice dam.
Chad Lloyd, co-owner of Summit Gutter Systems, said that the large amount of snow combined with cold temperatures has created a "perfect storm" for the formation of ice dams on homes and businesses.
"Any time you get the extremes happening in excess then you're going to be having ice dam issues," he said. "We've had extremely cold weather coupled with a lot of snow."
Ice dams form when snow melt travels down a roof and freezes once it hits a cold spot. The ice forms a wall that prevents snow from falling off the roof. Snow accumulates going up the roof, moving up against the shingles which can cause damage to homes. From there, the melted snow can get into a house and wreak havoc on drywall. Unnoticed leaks can also lead to mold. Once the water gets into a house, Lloyd said, that's when the real problems begin.
“Any time you get the extremes happening in excess then you’re going to be having ice dam issues.”Chad LloydCo-owner of Summit Gutter Systems
"Water inside is usually where the emergency situation is happening," he said.
Typically, Lloyd said that storms in Summit are more spread out, with nicer days in between. The past several weeks of constant snowfall have caused an increase in people scheduling ice dam removal with his company. His staff has been in and out, trying to keep up with scheduled appointments and emergencies that crop up. He added that extreme weather can sometimes make it hard to combat ice formation.
The last time the weather was causing this much trouble with ice dams was more than 10 years ago, and even then there were small breaks between storms.
"We just got so much snow that we couldn't hardly do anything, just stay on what was happening," he said.
Lloyd said that icicles are one sign that you could potentially have an ice dam forming on your roof, but another sign is snow sitting on top of darker colored ice.
Other things to look for are sections of the house that may not be as well insulated. Certain features on homes get colder much quicker than others. Sky lights and chimneys can cause cold patches where ice dams could potentially form. Air from the house warms the roof, with the exception of the eaves.
This Old House, a home-focused media brand based out of Connecticut, recommends keeping your roof the same temperature as the eaves to prevent ice dams. Heated tape or cords can be used as a preventative measure, but are not made to melt ice that is already there. Lloyd said that if you don't have a preventative system, pulling the snow off the roof can help stop ice dams from forming.
Cody Jensen, the energy programs manager at the High County Conversation Center, said that cables can end up being an expensive solution, and are often only temporary.
"It just helps with the symptoms," he said. "Throughout the winter about 100 feet of deicing cable will cost you about 300 bucks."
He added that fixing insulation within a house is a better long-term solution. The center also offers an energy audit program that helps to ensure houses are as efficient as possible. Jensen called it an "educational tool" that helps give people solutions to problems like ice dams.
"They can diagnose things and also prescribe some actions to help fix that," he said.