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Heavy winter snows could reduce the structural integrity of your roof and cause it to collapse.

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water on a tree branchThe snow and ice of winter brings many hazards, from slippery roadways and sidewalks to the threat of frostbite and falls. The formation of ice dams can also harm your roof, so it is important to watch out for the telltale signs. If you see icicles hanging from your downspouts or along the roofline, you could be looking at the results of ice damming.

If you suspect ice dams are to blame, it is best to call a roofing contractor rather than try to tackle it yourself. You could inadvertently damage your roof while removing the ice dams, and that could lead to leaks and other costly problems.

There are things you can do to prevent ice dams from forming. Prevention is always the best policy when it comes to home maintenance, and ice dams are no exception. Preventing ice dams is a two-step process, and those steps are outlined below.

Step #1 – Insulate Your Attic

A poorly insulated attic will increase your energy bills, but heat leaking out through the room can also contribute to ice damming. The melting snow and ice on your roof drips down and causes ice dams to form. Keeping the attic as cold as possible will retard this process and make ice dams less likely.

Make sure your attic floor is airtight, and that it has sufficient insulation to keep heat transfer from the lower floors to a minimum. Seal around any exhaust pipes and plumbing vents entering the attic, and look for holes and cracks that could be allowing warm air to flow out through the roof.

Step #2 – Keep the Attic Ventilated

A well-ventilated attic is critical for preventing ice dams. After the attic has been properly insulated and sealed, it is time to install some sort of ventilation. Typically that will involve some sort of vent. Depending on the size and shape of your attic, you can install eave vents, ridge vents, gable vents or soffit vents.

Many modern roofs combine a ridge vent with either a soffit or eave vent. Proper venting allows any heat that does enter the attic to escape while replacing it with colder air from the outside. That helps to stabilize the temperature inside and outside the roof and prevent ice dams from forming.

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