Why Ice Dams are Dangerous for Your Chimney
Have you noticed icicles hanging from your roof? That may be a sign that you have ice dams on your roof. Ice dams can pose a severe risk to the health of your chimney and roof. If there are icicles around the edge of your roof, it’s time to call in the experts for an inspection!
What are ice dams?
Ice dams are pools of ice on a roof caused by snow melting and refreeze. Usually, what causes the snow to melt is heat from the attic or chimney, which thaws the bottom layer of a snow pile on your roof despite below-freezing temperatures. Instead of draining off the top, this water freezes again when it comes in contact with the cold air.
Why should I worry about ice dams?
This thaw-freeze cycle might sound familiar. When water is absorbed by chimney masonry and frequently thaws then freezes, it can cause severe structural damage to your chimney. Ice dams pose a danger to chimneys for a similar reason.
When water thaws on your roof, it may seep into bricks and mortar or slip under the chimney flashing. This water will expand as it freezes, then detract again when it thaws. Every thaw-freeze cycle can cause damage as the water expands and detracts. This process can damage the chimney flashing, creating a pathway for water to leak into your home. Or it may cause bricks and mortar in the chimney to crack or break, weakening the structural integrity
of your chimney.
How to prevent ice dams from forming?
If you’ve had a problem with ice dams in the past, you may be able to prevent them by adding more insulation between your top floor and the attic. This will create a buffer that prevents most of the heat produced by your heating system from rising into the attic. The temperature in your attic should be close to the temperature outside.
If your attic is frigid, then your chimney might be the cause of your ice dams. You may need to improve the insulation between the chimney and the roof. The heat radiating from your chimney may be warming the flashing and roofing, causing the ice to melt.
In some cases, insulating the attic or chimney won’t reduce the risk of ice dams forming. If your chimney is located in a concave corner of the roof or at a lower point in the roof, hot smoke venting out of the chimney may be melting surrounding snow. In that case, you may not be able to prevent ice dams from forming when you use your fireplace.
What should I do if I think my roof has ice dams?
Call in a chimney expert if you suspect that your roof has an ice dam. Climbing up onto an icy roof is dangerous. Unless you are highly trained and have the appropriate equipment, it’s a smart idea to leave roof inspections to an expert. When a certified chimney expert like us inspects your roof, we will thoroughly inspect your roof and give you a detailed report after our inspection. We will let you know if we found an ice dam or signs of damage to the flashing or masonry. If we’ve seen an ice dam or damage, we will recommend the best solution to keep your chimney and the surrounding area safe from harm. Give us a call today if you notice the warning signs of a water dam on your roof!