Six tips to prevent ice damage to your home this winter

Those sparkling icicles hanging from your gutters may look beautiful, but they point to a sign that your roof is headed for disaster.

Icicles come from ice dams, a potentially dangerous blockage formed from melting snow that freezes along the shingle edges and gutters of your roof. As ice builds on these eaves, it can trap water, which eventually will seep through the seams of your roof shingles. That water can then leak into your attic and living area, and cause significant damage.

But if you insulate and ventilate your home properly, you can prevent major repair bills this winter. Here are six steps you can take now to keep ice dams from forming:

1. Make sure your attic floor has the right amount of insulation at the appropriate R-value for your climate to keep heat inside your home. If you’re unsure what R-value you need, visit the U.S. Department of Energy.

2. Add soffit vents if your home doesn’t have them. Air that travels into the attic from the house below carries water vapor that, unless vented away, can condense on the cold insulation, framing, and sheathing.

3. Make sure your attic insulation doesn’t cover any part of your soffit air-intake vents.

4. Have sufficient air-exhaust outlets, also known as gable vents, in your attic. (Peak-mounted ridge vents maximize air flow in the attic areas.)

5. Keep your gutters clean so water can flow easily from your roof. Fall is the best time to remove leaves and debris – before the snow flies.

6. Remove the snow and ice buildup on your roofline before it melts. You can find a snow roof rake at your local hardware store. After a snowfall, remove the first two or three feet of snow above your gutters for best results. Please note that this work can be very dangerous under certain conditions. If you are unsure about the proper procedure for raking your roof, SECURA recommends you hire a professional to do the job.