Preventing Ice Dams with Insulation

Posted on on February 20th, 2014

Image of: home with large chunks of ice hanging from roof.

Ice dams can be very damaging to your home.  If your home does not have proper insulation, warm air rises through the living space and raises the roof temperature, which causes the snow and ice on the roof to melt and create a downward flow of water.   The water meets the overhang which is the colder part of the roof and refreezes, causing ice to form as an “ice dam”.  Ice dams can cause quite a bit of damage to roofs, ceiling, and walls by leaking water and even creating mold and mildew problems.  Preventing ice dams, instead of repeatedly repairing them will save you substantial dollars (and headaches).

The number one cause of ice dams is not having proper insulation.  If your attic floor is insulated with fiberglass batts (i.e. the “rolls”, not the loose fill insulation) they are not stopping air leakage from the heated space below to the unheated space above.  Air sealing all penetrations in your attic, including attic accesses, recessed lights and other penetrations combined with installing additional insulation in the form of cellulose,  loose-fill (blown in) fiberglass or spray foam will significantly reduce the warm air from  leaking from the conditioned (heated) to the unconditioned (unheated) space.

You should also consider insulating the roof slopes (underside of the roof deck) instead of the attic floor to stop the thaw and re-freeze, which causes the ice dams, from occurring.  The best product to use in this application is spray foam insulation, which dramatically reduces heat loss and has the highest insulating power of all insulation products.

Taking the steps to upgrade your insulation not only combats ice damming, but can save as much as 15 – 50% on heating and cooling bills.   Good Life Energy Savers can provide you with the best insulation solutions for your home and gives FREE estimates.

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