Ice Damns and Pipes

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Ice Damns and Pipes

If you live in the upper part of the country you very well know the effects winter, slippery sidewalks, feet of snow to shovel off your cars in the morning and the many layers of clothes you have to wear to face the outdoors. But we as homeowners also face another possible danger, water damage to ceilings, walls, and floors due to leaks that are caused by bursting pipes of ice dams. You can take some basic steps to prevent this kind of damage.
If you are a handy person you could potentially do most of the work on your own. But when it comes to your home structure and potential dangerous areas hire a professional, also before making any structural changes contact your local building officials to make sure it will be to code.

What are ice dams?

When heat from the interior melts the snow on the roof the water will flow to the edge of the roof where temperatures are much cooler and refreeze. Eventually ice will build up and block water from draining of the roof, this will force the water under the roof coverings and into the attic or down the inside of the walls of your house. Once an ice dam forms the potential damage could be serious. Take these steps to avoid trouble later:
1. Keep the attic well ventilated. The cooler the attic the less the snow will melt and refreeze.
2. Keep the attic floor well insulated to minimize the amount of heat rising from the house through the attic.
3. As an extra precaution against roof leaks install a water repellent membrane under your roof covering.
4. Talk with your local building code official about code requirements for ice dam protection.

Freezing Pipes

Frozen water pipes can cause a buildup in water pressure between the ice jam and the closed faucet at the end of the pipe which can lead to a burst at its weakest point. Pipes in outside walls, attics, and crawl spaces are more susceptible to freezing in extremely cold weather. Take these steps to avoid trouble late:
1. Fit exposed pipe with insulation sleeves or wrappings to slow the heat transfer, the more insulation the better.
2. Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes with caulk.
3. Keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to allow warm air to circulate around pipes.
4. Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through an unheated or unprotected space, or drain the water system if your home will be unattended during the winter.
5. Review with your homeowner’s insurance policy with your insurance agent to make sure you have sufficient coverage to protect the investment that your home is.

National Building Inspections