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Federal Way Roofing: Article About Ice Dams

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After a heavy snow, ice dams are a common roofing problem. These thick ridges of ice form when melting snow trickles down and refreezes at a roof's edge. Left alone, ice dams can cause damage to the roof, insulation, gutters and even the home itself. A Federal Way roofing specialist can safely remove ice dams from a home and help homeowners address the roof ventilation issues that cause the problem.

Many people wonder how snow is able to melt on a roof and form an ice dam when it's freezing outside. The melting occurs because the attic below is warm enough to raise the roof's temperature to the point where snow can melt. A warm attic is usually caused by poor insulation and ventilation. Ice dams actually worsen after a major snowfall because the heavy coating of snow acts as an insulator, making it easier for the attic to warm the surface of the roof. Roofs with a flatter pitch tend to be more susceptible to ice dams; clogged gutters can also trap melting snow and allow ice to accumulate.

If ice dams are left untreated, ice can inch back up the edge of the roof and get under the shingles. When it melts, it can leak into the attic or wall.

Have a question regarding roof inspection or commercial roofing? Please ask the roofers from Chase NW of Federal Way.

The effects of ice dams are damaging but not always immediately apparent. Insulation can become saturated and lose effectiveness, and mold may develop in the attic. Long after the ice dam has melted, paint may begin to blister and peel as moisture found in cavities in the ceiling and wall tries to escape.

A homeowner who spots ice dams on their roof should immediately call a roofing company to remove the accumulated ice. Chipping away at the ice with an ax or some other tool is likely to result in damaged shingles. Ice dam removal is a job best left to professionals. Once the dams have been removed, it's important to find out what caused the problem in the first place. If the ice built up around clogged gutters, the problem isn't likely to recur if the gutters are kept clean in the future. If poor attic ventilation was the culprit, a more aggressive solution is needed. The amount of ventilation in the soffits or eaves needs to be balanced with the amount at the roof ridge. A roofing contractor can assess the situation and determine the best way to properly ventilate the attic, roof and eaves.

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