Why are There Icicles on my Roof?

February 5, 2018

Winter is a time of dormancy for most living things in nature, and we tend to think of this season as dull, grey, and lifeless. Yet we get to experience the true beauty of winter right after a fresh snowfall, when those lustrous and glass-like icicles begin to form on houses all around us. But icicles aren’t just nature’s way of decorating itself for the winter season. They could very well be a sign that there’s a problem with your roof.

Why are There Icicles on my Roof?

How do They Form?

Icicles are a byproduct of ice dams. Ice dams form when the upper section of your roof is at a high enough temperature to melt the snow, but the roof’s overhang or eave is cold enough to freeze the runoff, or melted snow.

But How can the Roof be so Warm if the Air Outside is so Cold?

A warm roof is usually caused by air inside the house escaping through the attic. When the air used to heat your home during the winter is allowed to escape, your energy bill soars and your roof becomes susceptible to unfavorable conditions.

If your roof is warm enough and you’ve had a decent amount of snowfall, water will build up to a high level in a short amount of time. When the water gets under your shingles, it exposes the roof’s surface to premature rotting and can lead to the need for roof replacement even if it is not very old.

So what’s the solution?

If you are able to do so safely, remove as much snow from your roof as possible either while it is accumulating or once the snow has stopped falling. Another option is to install heat tape, which is essentially an electrical wire that warms the roof’s surface, intended for placement above the eaves. This warms the water coming from your roof to a higher temperature, making it harder for the water to freeze and form icicles.

Unfortunately, these are only temporary fixes. A professional will need to perform a full roof inspection to determine what repairs are needed in order for it to naturally inhibit the formation of icicles.

Platinum Exteriors is a family-owned and operated Maryland roofing contractor that has been established in Westminster for over 15 years. We proudly provide roofing, siding, window, and door repair and construction to customers throughout the state. Contact us today to request a free estimate!

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