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There are so many things to do when the chilly temperatures come. Take some time and go skating at Washington Harbor Ice Rink. Spend time indoors at the Smithsonian Museum. Take a winter walk and stroll along the River Trail to reach the frozen waterfalls of the Potomac and Mather Gorge. Or cozy up to a fireplace at the lobby of Dupont’s Tabard Inn. Enjoy the season of white and ice out and about in the city! 

Pictures of winter scenes can give us a sense of ease and comfort as we gaze at warm fireplaces, chimney smoke, and sparkling icicles. Artists do a fabulous job bringing out the pleasant things in their wintery pictures. 

However, not all things you see in those lovely pictures, do you want to occur. For example, icicles!  These pointy objects are an indication of something potentially dangerous lurking in your roofing system! How do you know if there are problems with your roof when you see icicles forming? 

What Are Ice Dams?

ice dam, Washington DC

Ice dams are a buildup of ice toward the edge of your roof. As the temperature of your roof changes, the melting water refreezes and can create blocks of ice. Icicles are sometimes an outcome of this water-refreezing act. The ice buildup prevents water from flowing successfully to your gutter system and the downspouts. It then creates a dam of ice on your roof. 

Why Do Ice Dams Occur? 

As mentioned above, temperature changes can create ice dams. This temperature change can occur in one of three ways. 

  • Improper Insulation – Without proper insulation, heat can escape from the attic through the roofing system, warming up the area. 
  • Chimney, dryer vent, and plumbing stacks – When these home features are on the roof, the heat released from them causes temperature changes.
  • Rapid Temperature Changes  – This can occur during the duration of the winter season when temperatures fluctuate rapidly. Some refer to this as the “January Thaw” when the outside temperatures increase for a short period of time, causing the snow to quickly melt away. Of course, this “January Thaw” is short-lived, and the temperatures dip back down to a normal range. 

How Can I Prevent Ice Dams?

There are several steps you can take to keep ice dams away. 

Increase the Amount of Insulation

Washington DC, Insulation, New Insulation

Have an inspection done of your insulation and add more if you are lacking. Not only will this easy fix assist with limiting the number of ice dams, but it will also help to keep your energy bills lower. Since less heat is escaping, it will take less to keep it comfortable. 

Remove the Excess Snow

 A snow rake is a useful tool for removing excess snow from your single-story rooftop. This tool is an aluminum scraper mounted at a right angle on a telescoping pole. It will allow the user to reach at length upon the roof, and gently pull the excess snow off. This can be a dangerous task, so please do so with great caution. Never attempt to use a snow rake while on a ladder. Asphalt shingles may become brittle in the chilly weather, so gently pull the snow off the surface, otherwise, you could create more damage. 

Clean Out the Gutter System

Perhaps the reason for the ice dam is that something is clogging your gutters. Without proper flow, the water will only collect and freeze. Perhaps leaves, debris, a bird nest, or some other items have cluttered up the system. Carefully climb up a ladder, with assistance, and safely clean them out. Once the water begins to melt, it will have a place to go.

Trust the professionals at AWS Restorations in Washington D.C. to assist with all of your roofing needs. We are a family-owned and operated roofing company, serving the local area for over three decades. Our longevity shows our dedication to the friends, neighbors, and residents of the area. We treat each customer like family, and therefore, strive to be transparent and honest from start to finish. 

Call us today and let’s discuss the possibility of ice dams you are dealing with. We can find a solution, to keep you, your home, and your family safe. 

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