Preventing ice dams on your roof!

So we all know that installing gutters can help prevent serious and costly foundation issues by diverting water away from the home, but homeowners are often conflicted when considering gutters because once our Northern Michigan winter snow falls, these gutters often freeze up into solid blocks of ice!  That ice can sometimes cause ice dams that results in ice migrating beneath the roof covering and causing moisture damage to the roof sheathing.  Worse, that damage can also lead to moisture intrusion into your attic and eventually your interior ceilings.  With that moisture damage comes mold!

This is precisely why so many Northern Michigan homeowners don’t install gutters.  So your choice is potential damage to the foundation, or potential damage to your roof…  Pick your poison.

First, I’m a strong proponent of installing gutters with downspouts to divert water far away from the foundation.  Neglecting the gutters can lead to serious foundation structural issues due to moisture intrusion that can be extremely costly in the end.  But in order to prevent ice dams as a result, a homeowner needs to address a couple of key items;

1 – You need adequate attic insulation and ventilation.  Here in Northern MI, zone #6 we should have an attic insulation R value of R49.  That’s approximately 16” of blown-in insulation.  Why:  Because preventing heat loss from your living space into the attic will prevent the snow/ice melt on the roof.  As it melts, it drips down to the eave, (which is not insulated) and then freezes into the ice dam.  So adding insulation to your attic will both save you energy to heat the home as well as prevent ice dams.

2 – Keep your gutters clean and free of debris.  This may include installing functional gutter guards that prevent debris from ever collecting.  The debris is nothing but a water/ice “sponge” that collects and holds the moisture that eventually turns into an ice dam.

3 – You can prevent the ice dam if you prevent the snow build up.  After a heavy snowstorm, simply use a snow rake, (which you can purchase from a hardware store) to remove the snow from the eaves.  You can simply remove the bottom 4-6’ of snow that would otherwise melt and turn into the ice dam.

4 – A more expensive option is installing an electric roof cable on the eaves.  This will certainly prevent the ice dams if installed correctly, but it’s a costly option that really should be a last resort if you aren’t able to add insulation to your attic.

Remember, gutters are low cost means to prevent potentially very costly foundation issues, don’t overlook them because you aren’t able to deal with ice dams.  Proper insulation in your attic will save on your winter heating bills and help prevent damaging ice dams.

If that’s not enough, here is an additional incentive for you: 

The Federal Government has reinstated the Federal 25C Tax Credit Program until December 31, 2022. Section 25C Tax Credit for Qualified Energy Efficiency Improvements offers a 10% tax credit worth up to $500 for homeowners for qualified energy-efficiency upgrades such as building insulation.

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(989) 260-2969