Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling of Southeast Wisconsin: Offers tops to recognize and prevent ice dams

Allan Degner
[email protected]

Milwaukee, Wis. – February 24, 2014 – Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling of Southeast Wisconsin
is providing consumers with the following tips for recognizing and removing ice dams from homes and
businesses. Paul Davis is a leading provider of fire, water and mold damage restoration services for
residential and commercial properties.

According to Dan Druml, Paul Davis office owner, ice dams can form when a roof that is warmer than
the eaves causes snow on the roof to melt, the water to flow down to the colder eaves, and
re-freeze. As this cycle repeats, ice can back up or “dam” under shingles, allowing water to
accumulate behind it. The water can leak through the roof and cause serious damage to walls,
insulation, ceilings, and painted surfaces inside the home that may only get worse over time.
However, there are some relatively simple steps one can take to prevent ice dams:

Ice dams are caused by the interaction of many factors:

•Ice and snow melt at 35°F. Liquid water freezes at 32°F. Minor temperature differentials can lead
to major problems.

•Layered roof systems such as shakes or shingles do not keep out standing water. They require a
continuous, uninterrupted slope to shed water.

•Attics are warmer than the outside air because heat leaks from the heated portion of the structure
up into the attic. Heavy snow cover effectively insulates the attic from cold outside air, allowing
the temperature to rise even higher.

When an ice dam forms and as layer after layer of meltwater refreezes, the ice dam can grow with
liquid water pooling behind it under the snow. Soon, this water is deep enough to seep between
shingles and into the attic or wall cavities. Ice dams are sometimes one to two feet thick.
Secondary ice dams often form around vents and skylights.

Druml suggests the best protection against ice dams is a properly designed “cold roof”. Minimizing
heat gain in the attic while maximizing attic ventilation with outside air is one of the best ways
to reach this goal. “Attics can gain heat in two main ways with conduction due to inadequate
insulation; and convection caused by warm air leaking through gaps, usually around plumbing, wiring,
ducts and vents,” said Druml. “Try to reduce the conductive heat gain by increasing the insulation
levels in the structure.”

Convective heat gain can be minimized by meticulously caulking and sealing even the smallest
penetrations through the ceiling, as well as carefully installing gaskets around attic entrances.
Although some heat gain is inevitable, when the attic ventilation is adequate, the temperature will
not reach levels that cause extensive melting. A cold roof is easy to achieve with properly designed
new construction. Reaching the same goal in older homes may be both difficult and expensive.

Paul Davis recommends the following tips to for preventing ice dams:

•Proper insulation is the key – attic spaces need to be kept cool so that the roof stays cold.
Ideally, attics should have 12” of insulation.

•Seal areas where heat can escape into the attic. Likely spots include areas around chimneys, around
electrical components such as junction boxes and ceiling fans, plumbing vents, and any other
passages through the attic floor.

•Ventilation – Less important than insulation but still a factor in preventing ice dams, proper
ventilation will allow any heat that does enter the attic to exit the space and be replaced by cold
outside air.

Unfortunately, obvious damage may be just the tip of the iceberg. The worst effects of ice dams are
often hidden, caused by moisture trapped inside walls or floors. This damage is seldom discovered
until months after all the snow has melted. The property owner may seldom make the connection
between the damage found and their ice dam of the previous winter. Besides the cost of restoration,
hidden damage can make future ice damming more severe, waste energy, and even create serious health
risks for building occupants.

If an ice dam has already caused damage to the home or commercial building, it is critical to have
the entire structure inspected by a restoration professional who is certified from The Institute of
Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC). For more information, call (414)
383-3131. Visit the website at