Winter is coming to NJ! The forecast says that it will be below freezing point soon. Ice dams are inevitable if you don't prepare your home for winter conditions. The snow might start melting on top of surfaces like roofs and siding and will lead to water in all sorts of places where it doesn't belong during these cold months.

When the cold outside air seeps into your home because of an inadequately insulated exterior wall or window, you end up with ice dams. Ice dams are not just an inconvenience; they're hazardous. If left unattended, they can lead to water damage and even mold growth inside your Burlington County property. They also increase the chances of the roof collapsing.

The worst part is that it can be difficult to tell if you have an ice dam problem within your home. They start small, but they grow slowly over time, so often, there's no visual clue that one exists or that there's a problem about to happen.

To help you detect if you have one of this dangerous build-up of ice and snow, we'll explain what an ice dam is, how it forms, and what you can do about them.

What is an ice dam on a roof?

An ice dam occurs when snow on the roof freezes. For example, when heat is lost from inside your home, either due to an insufficiently insulated exterior wall or a poorly installed window, If there's enough temperature difference outside and inside, the snow on the roof will freeze and then expand.

When it expands, it can't push any further outward because the wall or window stops it. So the only place left for the snow to go is up and over the roofline, which then piles up as an ice dam.

As this build-up of snow and ice continues higher and higher, incoming heat from inside your home will be blocked by the frozen barrier on top of your property.

The ice will start ruining the shingles on your roof, and water from melted snow will seep in through the damaged areas. This is how you wind up with interior damage due to ice dams.

What causes ice damming on a roof?

Three main things contribute to the formation of ice dams:

1) Cold weather. The more extreme your winter temperatures get, the more likely you will have roof ice build-ups. This is because temperature differences inside and outside your home turn into heat loss (from inside). If this causes snow on the roof to melt, it can refreeze into ice when it comes in contact with the roof.

2) Lack of insulation on your home's exterior. As mentioned earlier, if there is not enough insulation or even no insulation at all, heat will quickly escape your home, and this temperature difference will contribute to forming an ice dam. If you have a vapor barrier, you're in luck. If not, adding one would help tremendously with the prevention of ice from forming on your roof.

3) Insufficient heat loss from inside your home. Your roof is just one part of your home that can suffer from the effects of poor insulation and insufficient heat intake. To prevent ice dams, given the conditions described above, you must also make sure to insulate your home correctly and install windows that ensure enough heat loss from inside.

What can you do to prevent ice dams?

Contact your local Burlington roofing contractor if you've noticed a lot of snow accumulating on the roof and suspect ice dams might be forming.

If you're trying to prevent ice dams from occurring in the future, there are two things you must do:

  1. insulate your home properly
  2. make sure you open up all your exterior walls and windows to let heat escape properly.

Needless to say, if you're not sure how to do these things, calling a professional Burlington, NJ roofing contractor is the way to go. Champion Exteriors have experts who will install insulation for you and recommend which type of window would be best to ensure heat loss during the ice dams roof. Schedule your free consultation at (609) 845-3576!