If you live in a climate with cold winters, you’re probably familiar with the dreaded ice dam. Ice dams are ridges of thick, solid ice that build up along the edge of your roof. If you have icicles forming, chances are ice dams are forming right behind them.
Ice dams are problematic because they can damage your roof by tearing off shingles and gutters. That can cause water to leak into the house, damaging the interior. The best way to deal with ice dams is to remove them as they form to prevent problems, but if it’s too late for that and you’ve already noticed a leak, what’s the best thing to do next?
Inspect, Repair or Replace?
Roof work always begins with an inspection, so have a professional roofing contractor come out to look at the roof and offer an opinion. Better yet, have two or three come out so you can compare the advice and make sure you’re not oversold.
If you know what to look for when it comes to roof damage, you might also want do your own inspection first. Problems to look for include missing or damaged shingles, dark patches, damp attic insulation, sagging boards, water stains, mold and mildew. If nothing else, at least do an inspection inside the home to see if there are telltale signs of damage.
In many cases, repairs are all that’s needed. Damage from ice dams doesn’t necessarily indicate that your roof is worn out or losing structural integrity. They’re a direct product of the culprit: ice dams that are too heavy to be supported by your roof and block water from running off. The price of repairs varies based on the extent of the damage, the roof’s size, the type of roof (material, slope, pitch, etc.) and your location. You might be looking at just a few hundred dollars or more than $1,000.
If the contractor tells you to get the roof replaced, definitely get a second opinion. Most contractors are honest, and it very well may be that the roof has reached the end of its useful life, but it’s always safer to verify. In that case you’re looking at anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 – not a small investment.
How to Prevent Ice Dams
- Keep the roof clear of snow.
- Remove ice dams as they form – hire a professional if you need to. This is dangerous work, even for people who are skilled at home projects.
- Make sure the attic is properly insulated and ventilated. This can prevent ice dams from forming.
- Move to Florida!