Destructive Utah Ice Damming
Have you ever heard of Utah ice damming? Utah ice damming is a serious problem not only in Utah but in other areas that have a lot of snow during the winter. An ice dam can occur on the corner of a roof when a home is not properly insulated. Perhaps you have seen such an ice dam when driving through different neighborhoods in the wintertime. They are easy to spot because they will have huge icicles hanging from the gutters of a roof. What is interesting is that some homes have them and others do not. Why is that?
One of the reasons why some homes have ice dams is because they do not have proper insulation in their attic. What causes an ice dam is a complex issue involving heat transfer by means of radiation, conduction, and convection. All of these three types of heat transfers are involved in any home but when a home has poor insulation in the attic then these three heat transfer methods become excessive. This can cause an ice dam. If you live in a home that has an ice dam you need to take some immediate steps to remove it. Fortunately, there is an excellent company in your area that knows exactly what to do.
To prevent an ice dam you will need to make the ceiling of your home airtight so that moist, warm air cannot flow into the attic space. After you have sealed all of the various leakage paths that are found between the ceiling and the attic you will then need to increase your roof/ceiling insulation. This will be an extremely effective method for cutting down any heat loss by conduction. Once you have done both of these procedures your home will be protected against future destructive ice dams.
The next thing that you will have to is to make sure that your roof can carry the additional weight of the snow load. This is important because once you fix the problem the snow on your roof will no longer melt but it will accumulate. Snow may seem like a substance that is light but when accumulated it can become quite heavy. You can check with your local building inspection office to see what structural techniques were used to construct your roof. If you have a concern then you may need to consult a professional engineer to do an evaluation about the strength of your roof.
One of the things that will help to maintain a roof temperature that is uniform is a natural roof ventilation. This type of ventilation will help only if you successfully introduce the first two steps of the sealing cracks and openings and adding adequate insulation. A natural ventilation system for the attic is important to thoroughly dry the attic space during the summer. This will reduce heat buildup during the winter. In the state of Utah is not recommended to use a mechanical attic ventilation system. This type of ventilation system can create other undesirable issues in your attic.
It is important to state that you need to be careful if you are about to investigate or try to remove an ice dam. In fact, it would be a much better idea to have a reputable company visit your home and do this type of work for you. A homeowner who is inexperienced with this type of work can risk personal injury and can cause possible damage to the roof and home. A qualified company can send a representative to your home and explain exactly what they will do to remove and then prevent and ice dam from building up.
For example, once a home has been tightened up in regards to air leakage there needs to be proper ventilation systems, combustion devices, and exhausting devices in place so that the air can operate effectively and safely. A professional company will use a blower door test to evaluate the air tightness of your ceiling. They may also use an infrared camera to search for places in the ceiling where excessive heat losses are occurring. It is very important not to repair any walls or ceilings until they are completely dry. The interior repairs should be done at the same time as the correcting of the heat loss problem. Doing this will guarantee that you will not have any future ice dam damage.
If you are building a new home make sure that your contractor is using proper construction practices that will prevent ice dams from conforming. He should follow any existing state code requirements and if possible exceed the state code requirements for roof/ceiling insulation levels. The most important factor is to construct a 100% effective air barrier from the ceiling to the attic. Make sure that your contractor does a test that will indicate if there is any air leakage from the home into the attic space.
It should also be noted that any skylights, recessed lights, complicated roof designs, and heating ducts in the attic will increase the risk of an ice dam forming. If you use common sense and follow state building code requirements you should be free from destructive Utah ice damming.