Ice Dams 101

Snow and sparkling icicles are traditional symbols of winter in Wisconsin, but they aren’t something you want to see on your own home. When icicles build up on your roof, you’re likely dealing with ice dams, and that spells trouble. 

What are ice dams?  

Check out our video for a quick explanation. 

Ice dams tend to form when you have air leaks and a lack of proper insulation in your attic.  Air leaks are commonly found around unsealed can lights, ceiling fans, drop soffits, and chimney chases, which allow heat to escape into the attic. Once there, the escaped heat causes snow on the roof to melt and then refreeze at the edge where heat doesn’t reach. 

What’s the impact? 

For one thing, ice dams indicate your home is losing heat and wasting energy, making it less comfortable while leading to higher energy bills.  

On top of that, when rooftop snow melts, the water can dam up against the thick ridges of ice and seep under the shingles. This can cause damage to ceilings and walls, warped windows, buckling floors, and collapsing drywall and plaster. Yikes! 

What can you do? 

The best way to prevent ice dams is to identify where your home is leaking air and letting heat escape. That’s where FOCUS ON ENERGY® can help. An energy assessment is the perfect first step to identifying any potential issues and saving on recommended improvements. 

You’ll likely want to seal up those air leaks and ensure it’s topped off with enough insulation. For Wisconsin attics, we typically recommend R-49 or higher, which is about 18 inches of fiberglass insulation. 

We offer incentives for insulation and air sealing, and can help you find a Trade Ally contractor to take a closer look at your home. Get details on ice dam solutions. 

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