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Prevent Winter Ice Dams

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Getting Ready for Winter Part 2: Ice Dams Be Damned

Some winters are rougher than others in Michigan in terms of Ice Dams, and while at Grand Rapids Roofing by Premier, we’re hoping for a mild winter, we’re ready if it’s rough!  Understanding and managing attic air temperatures through insulation and venting is one of the best proactive steps you can take to avoid ice dams this winter.

To prevent ice dams, you need to keep the roof cold so that the snow on the roof dissipates without making large amounts of meltwater that then refreezes. The underside of the roof deck should not exceed 30 F. The way to achieve this is to ensure that there is adequate insulation and ventilation and to seal all gaps that let warm air pass into the attic from the house.

Improving Ventilation

Ventilation introduces cold air into the attic and allows heated air to escape rapidly. One of the best things homeowners can do to help prevent ice dams is to add Ridge Vents to their roof to improve ventilation.

Benefits of Ridge Vents

  • Works year-round to ventilate the attic
  • Provides evenly distributed ventilation along the entire underside of the roof
  • Slim design for visual appeal
  • Provides a higher volume of airflow per square foot of attic area than any other fixed-vent system
  • The design maximizes airflow across the entire underside of roof sheathing
  • Changes in wind direction have no significant effect on vent performance
  • Wind-driven rain resistant to 100 MPH

Contact Us for information about economical and proactive Ridge Vents.

Improving Insulation

If you decide to add more insulation to your attic to help control the temperature, note that it is important to keep an air space between the roof deck and the insulation in order to prevent a condensation buildup that can delaminate the roof deck. Prior to insulating, install polystyrene rafter air channels.

More insulation on the attic floor helps keep the heat where it belongs.

Additional Tips to Stop Heat Leaks

  • An unsealed attic hatch or whole-house fan is a massive opening for heat to escape. Cover them with weather-stripped caps made from foil-faced foam board held together with aluminum tape.
  • Make sure that the ducts connected to the kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents all lead outdoors through either the roof or walls, but never through the soffit.
  • Spread fiber-reinforced mastic on the joints of HVAC ducts and exhaust ducts. Cover them entirely with R-5 or R-6 foil-faced fiberglass.
  • Seal around electrical cables and vent pipes with a fire-stop sealant. Also, look for any spots where the light shines up from below or the insulation is stained black by the dirt from passing air.
  • Old-style recessed lights give off great plumes of heat and can’t be insulated without creating a fire hazard. Replace them with sealed “IC” fixtures, which can be covered with insulation.

Need help getting your home ready for winter? Contact Us for a free attic and ventilation inspection.