Utah Ice Damming A Serious Problem

Utah is a great state to live in and there are so many activities for all family members during both the summer and the winter. The wintertime is especially exciting for those who love outdoor sports such as skiing, ice skating, and snowmobiling. The winter however can cause a few concerns for homeowners. Homeowners need to be aware of Utah ice damming. Utah ice damming is when an ice dam is formed on the ridge of a roof.

This ridge of ice will prevent the melting snow that is on the roof from properly draining off of the roof. As the water backs up behind this ridge of ice, or dam, it can cause extensive damage to the home. The extensive damage can be caused by water leaking into the home. This could affect ceilings, walls, insulation, and many other areas of the home. Obviously, a homeowner would want to prevent this from happening.

The reason why Utah ice damming begins in the first place is a complex issue. It is an interaction from the heat loss from a home, the outside temperatures, and the snow cover on the roof. Ice dams only form when there is snow on a roof while at the same time having the lower surfaces of the snow below 32°F and the upper surfaces of the snow above 32°F. These conditions would have to be sustained for a period of time for an ice dam to occur.

During this interaction the snow that is above 32°F will melt. As the melting water flows downward and off the roof it reaches the area that is below 32°F. At this point this water will freeze and form an ice dam. As the snow continues to melt on the outer surface it starts to back up behind the ice dam. Since this water is still at a temperature above 32°F it will remain a liquid. At this point the water will look for openings and cracks in the exterior of the roof. It will enter these cracks and openings and flow into the attic and then to ceiling installation, exterior walls, and the ceiling on the inside of the home.

You may be wondering at this point of the article why there would be a difference in temperatures to cause this interaction. The heat source that is warming the roof is primarily escaping from the home. There are rare occasions however where it may be due to solar heat. Heat from your home travels to the surface of the roof in three different ways. The three ways are convection, radiation, and conduction.

The conduction method means that heat energy is traveling through a solid. A very good example of conduction is when you heat a cast iron frying pan for cooking. The heat from your stove element will travel through the cast-iron frying pan from the bottom of the pan to the top. When you put your hand immediately above a frying pan you will then notice the other two methods of how heat travels, radiation and convection. The heat energy that rises through the air to your hand is called convection. However, there is also heat being transferred to your hand from the frying pan by electromagnetic waves called radiation.

In your home, heat will move from the inside of your home upward towards the ceiling and roof by conduction. For this reason it is important to use proper insulation with a high R-value per square inch to prevent excessive heat loss by conduction. The insulation in your attic will be warmer than other surrounding areas in the attic and this will cause the air to be heated and rise by means of convection to the roof. Finally, the insulation’s top surface area will have a higher temperature than the roof sheathing which will transfer heat by means of radiation. Once again you can reduce this type of heat loss by adding additional insulation.

It should be noted that ice dams are preventable. If you drive through any city in the state of Utah during the wintertime you will see homes that have ice dams and homes that do not have ice dams. The way to prevent ice dam is to simply control the amount of heat that your home is losing. This can easily be done by adding more insulation into your attic.

If you have an ice dam on your home then you will need to take immediate action. The first thing that you will need to do is to remove all of the snow from your roof. This will eliminate the main culprit that is responsible for an ice dam. You can remove the snow by using a roof rake or a push broom. Be careful not to damage any of the roofing material when doing this procedure. If you have an ice dam that is causing water to leak into your home then you need to begin by making a channel through the dam so that water can flow off of the roof.

Yes, an ice dam can cause a homeowner a lot of serious problems but the good news is that it can be preventable by taking appropriate steps before winter arrives.