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What are Ice Dams and Why Are They Chimney Hazards?

Chimney flashing repair, spring green wisconsinEven as you enjoy the warmth of a crackling fire in your fireplace, did you know that ice dams can form and create a chimney hazard? The wintry season is tough on chimneys in general, but ice dams are little-known threats that can cause tremendous damage to chimneys, roofs, and a home’s structure. Below, learn what ice dams are, how they can wreak havoc, and what to do about them.

What is an Ice Dam?

When frozen water accumulates in a rooftop gutter system or around a chimney, there is a potential that an ice dam will form. After the snow begins melting, the frozen water being held against the chimney can penetrate the


masonry system and cause a chimney leak that can damage the roof and enter the home interior.

Ice dams are created as a result of poor insulation and inadequate ventilation in a home’s attic. The warmth coming through the attic melts the snow and then, when temperatures drop again, the melting snow turns into ice.

What Makes Ice Dams Chimney Hazards?

If an ice dam forms against your chimney, moisture can infiltrate the masonry. This means that the masonry is on an irreversible path to destruction. The damage is done during freezing and thawing cycles in winter. As the ice inside the masonry expands and contracts, the masonry also moves in a way that causes it to deteriorate.

Ice dams frequently damage chimney flashing, as well. Due to the ice dam in the flashing, the metal pulls away from the chimney and cracks, resulting in a destructive leak.

Damaged Gutters and Roofs

Ice dams are frequently associated with rooftop gutter systems. Melting snow will move down the roof slope until it refreezes on the overhang. The ice builds up to form a dam, resulting in a wall of ice rather than mere icicles. Gutters sometimes fall off because of ice dams.

The chimney leaks caused by ice dams also affect the roof and attic. Water may be able to seep through the underlayment of your roof depending on how the roofing is designed. Also, shingles can tear and crack. The moisture can result in the need for a roof rebuild and could also seep into the home, causing extensive interior damage.

Chimney flashing repair, spring green wisconsinTips to Prevent the Formation of Ice Dams

Because warm areas on the roof cause ice dams, adding additional insulation to your attic floor and roof could prevent the problem. Another preventative measure is to schedule a chimney inspection and ask chimney experts to check your flashing and provide any needed repairs. Flashing in good condition could prevent the development of ice dams on the chimney.

It is wise to keep an eye on your roof in winter, checking for signs of ice dams. If you see that ice dams have developed, don’t hesitate to contact professionals who can help. Snow removal is typically recommended. For a chimney damaged by ice dams, it is best to call an established chimney sweep company.

Contact Chimney Specialists Inc.

When you want to prevent or repair the kind of chimney and roof destruction caused by ice dams, the best place to call is Chimneys Specialists Inc. in the Highland WI area. The number is (608) 929-4887. For ice dam prevention and repair in Dubuque IA, contact Dubuque Fireplace & Patio, our sister store, at (563) 582-5156.

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