Ice dams sneak into a home silently and comes from a build-up of snow sitting on a house’s roof; while the temperature outdoors drops to below freezing, the temperature inside the attic is above freezing. The problem here is heated air rising from the home’s living space, escaping upward and warming the roof. Like in the illustration above.
The heated roof causes the blanket of snow on top of the roof to begin melting from the bottom up. The melted snow water tries to flow down and off the roof, and when the water emerges at the edge of the roof, it’s exposed to the freezing air, and the water unfortunately refreezes - creating ice damming.
Where the water was once snow, it is now ice along the eaves and gutters. As this melting and freezing cycle is repeated, the water has nowhere to go, and the ice dam begins to grow.
Trapped water doesn’t freeze immediately, so house materials begin to come in contact with the wetness and result in interior water damage. Unless corrective steps are taken, the water problem can recur, along with continued heat loss along the pathways that allowed the heated air to escape in the first place.
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