Protect Your Home from Damage Caused by Ice Dams!
The winter of 2011 was definitely one for the record books. It was the third snowiest January in Boston’s
history, resulting in nearly 40 inches that month alone! The estimated 60+ inches of total snowfall this
past winter has left a lot of homes in the Northeast with more than the usual amount of snow resting on
the roofs of homeowners. The news was filled with plenty of horror stories of roofs collapsing under the
snow’s weight, but that isn’t the only danger too much snow can create. Large amounts of snow can
also result in ice dams. These ice dams can end up pouring water into people’s homes causing physical
damage to the building’s structure and much distress to the homeowner.
Ice dams happen when the outside temperature is below freezing, the roof deck temperature is above
freezing and there is snow on the roof. These three elements can spell disaster for homeowners. The
warm roof deck causes the snow on top of the roof deck to melt and the melted water runs down to the
edge of the roof. There, the water refreezes, leading to a buildup of ice and a backup of water, hence
the term “dam”.
There are many misconceptions of how to prevent ice dams. First off, to prevent an ice dam don't heat
the roof, keep it cold. That way, the snow on the roof eventually dissipates without making large
amounts of melted water. The underside of the roof deck should not exceed 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The
best way to maintain low temperatures is by ensuring that there is adequate insulation and sealing gaps
that let warm air pass into the attic from the house, but don’t let it escape from the attic and warm the
roof. Many homeowners, and even some contractors, are under the impression that attic ventilation is
one of the first steps to help prevent ice dams, but one should always start with sealing the attic and
increasing the insulation. We have seen improved results when adding foam insulation to one’s attic,
resulting in enjoying one’s home during a snowy winter and avoiding damage caused by ice dams once
warmer weather rolls around.
For more information, visit Boston design build firm Feinmann Inc. online at http://www.feinmann.com
or call us at 781-860-9800. If you have any questions regarding the home design and construction
process, please visit Feinmann’s Design and Construction FAQ.
About the Author
Peter Feinmann is the President of Feinmann Inc., a Boston design and build firm. A leader among a new
generation of design and build professionals, Peter is a nationally recognized writer and sought-after
speaker in the design/build industry. He is the recipient of numerous local and national awards,
including the National Association of the Remodeling Industry's (NARI) Contractor of the Year Award and
Builder’s Association of Greater Boston 2008 Remodeler of the Year Award.
Thoughtful management practices, honest communication, a team approach to every project and
Peter's emphasis on client satisfaction is why his company continues to be one of the most highly-
regarded design/build firms in the industry today.