Ice Dams: What is a Roof Ice Dam and How Do You Prevent it?

Ice Dams are a thick ridge of ice that build up on the eaves of your home. This blog shares more detail on how roof ice dams form in MN and offers attic insulation as one way to prevent them.

Ice Dams.   We’ve all heard about them but what is an ice dam?

Ice Dams are a thick ridge of ice that build up on the eaves of your home.  They are caused when snow starts to melt and run down the roof, and then re-freezes when it reaches the eaves.   The warm air on the top of your roof causes the snow to melt, and it runs down the pitch of your house to the cold eaves where it gets trapped and then freezes.

Moisture is always attracted to the coldest surface it can find.  If it is cold enough, it will freeze.  This is the same reason you may find frost on the bottom of your old windows or patio doors inside your home.   On your roof it is just worse because the melt off literally rolls down-hill to the eave where it collects.What is an ice dam

Once the ice dam has been formed, it only gets worse.   Any additional water that rolls down towards it gets trapped underneath the dam and it can seep into your home, causing water damage.   On a large scale that damage can cause paint to peel, ceilings to be replaced, floors to be warped, insulation to rot, and window treatments to be replaced.

**Fun fact**  Glacial ice dams are the same thing, but on a much larger scale.   With a glacial ice dam the frozen glacier moves until it gets blocked by a river, and the backup of water causes a lake.   In Minnesota that gives us a place to go visit in the summer.   In your home, the backup could result in an insurance claim.

How do you prevent an ice dam?  There are several actions you can take to prevent an ice dam.

When snow starts to pile up take a large roof rake and remove the snow from the eaves.  Pay special attention to any snow buildup around roof vents and make sure the downspouts on your gutters are clear so drainage can occur.

Attic insulation is a great way to prevent ice dams.   By making sure your attic is properly insulated you are both trapping the warm air inside your home, and with proper ventilation, you are ensuring that the roof is staying cool.   A cool roof will not melt the snow, therefore working to prevent the main cause of ice dams.

Universal Windows Direct can help prevent ice dams from forming. Universal Windows Direct can help prevent ice dams from forming.

Is your attic insulated?   Do you have the proper ventilation in your attic to keep your roof cool?   Contact Universal Windows Direct, MN today for a FREE consultation on your current attic.   A small amount of time now can prevent huge problems later.

Call us today at 612-866-2888 to schedule your appointment!



Author:  Melissa Brager, Universal Windows Direct, MN








Window and Door Replacement Problems: Why expecting problems can make your project better

Window and Door Replacement Jobs can have problems.   Knowing what to expect can make your job go more smoothly even if a problem is experienced.

A very VERY long time ago I worked at an amusement park.   While I was there  I spent a few summers interviewing  teenagers for jobs  - which was really just a big “realistic job preview” song and dance.  It was a total “no surprises” kind of work statement and it went like this:

“You are working outside.  Your uniform is shorts.   When it is cold out you will need a sweatshirt.  When it is hot out you will sweat.  When it rains all day you will be very wet.  If there is a storm, we stay open. If the storm is very very bad, we will evacuate.   This is part of the job.  Some days you will talk to hundreds of people.  Some days you might only talk to 5 people.    You will hear the exact same question repeatedly all day long.   This is what you can expect"

Then I asked if they still wanted the job and if they said yes we hired them.  We figured that if they knew everything that could go wrong at the beginning and were still interested that all would be fine.  For the most part, it was.   Some kids were surprised at how much they didn't like working in the rain, for example, but they weren't surprised that they had to work in the rain.   They were prepared.

As a business owner, I think of that situation now. I understand it would be sales  sabotage if our salesman sat face to face with a homeowner and listed out everything that could go wrong as they sign the contract and collect the initial investment.   But at the same time,  it sure would be nice if we could prepare homeowners and say something like this:

"90% of the time jobs go very smoothly, however  we do expect to have some problems some of the time. Our windows are made by real people in a real factory.   They are USA made and they keep people working, and towns functioning. We are proud of this.   At the same time we know that mistakes happen.   To help you prepare, here is a list of problems that could affect your job.

  1. Sometimes windows get broken or screens get gouged on the truck
  2. Sometimes an entire job is loaded on the truck, but one window is forgotten.
  3. Sometimes a window breaks when coming off the line and has  to be remade
  4. Sometimes the weather gets nasty and installation needs to be delayed.
  5. Sometimes an issue with an order isn’t discovered until it gets to the job site.
  6. Sometimes an order gets measured wrong.
  7. Sometimes an order gets placed wrong.   Or Lost.
  8. Sometimes an order gets made wrong.
  9. Sometimes there is a misunderstanding on how the install will work.
  10. Sometimes our installer might get sick, or have a personal emergency, or have truck or trailer problems.   He is a person too, this is unavoidable."

I wonder how people would react if we did this.   Would preparing them for the potential of issues make a difference?   Would they shrug their shoulders in acceptance?  Would they expect more issues and then be even more thrilled when their job was smooth?  It's an interesting thought to consider, but I don't think we'll start doing it anytime soon.

This is the only thing we know for sure.   No matter what may happen some of the time, we know that  ALL OF THE TIME you want a contractor who will acknowledge the problem, empathize with your frustration and then fix it as fast as possible.   We can never control the uncontrollable but we can always control our reaction, and our ability to resolve.   We want your home improvement to be a home improvement.  We want you to love it when it’s done so you tell all your  friends.

If you are ready to start your window, siding, or door replacement project that will most likely go very smoothly  (but could potentially have a surprise hiccup) call us today.  Quotes are always free.   (612) 866-2888.

Author:  Melissa Brager, Operations Manager,  Universal Windows Direct, MN

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