ice dam collecting on edge of snowy roof

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March 1, 2021

Ice dams are one of the “four-letter words” for homeowners looking to keep their homes comfortable and healthy throughout the winter here in Massachusetts. Ice dams can be hard to detect, and the resulting damage often goes unnoticed until it’s too late —so of course curious minds would want to know what causes ice dams and how they can be avoided. 

Because homeowners throughout Massachusetts have trusted Mass Energy Experts with improving how their homes perform, as well as saving on energy-saving upgrades with Energy saving rebates, we are keenly aware of how ice dams form and how you can avoid them through better home performance. 

Ice Dams Begin Under the Roof

The heat needed to create an ice dam actually comes from inside your home. As your furnace, boiler, or heat pump blows warm air into your living space, that air will search for cooler temperatures. The nearest area of cold temps is above your ceiling, in the attic, and heat will infiltrate the attic through tiny holes in recessed lighting, and through improperly installed or insufficient insulation

As the attic heats up, it will also heat up the shingles on your roof, which will cause any snow accumulation to melt. This snowmelt will travel to cooler areas of the roof, where it will refreeze and create an obstruction for future snowmelt. The obstruction of ice dams stops water from properly draining, causing all that moisture to drain to other areas. These other areas can include back into the attic, damaging any insulation you have left, or further down the walls into your drywall. This excess moisture will cause structural damage to your home and can increase mold growth, threatening your comfort and more importantly your health. 

How To Spot Potential Ice Dams

So how can you tell if your roof may be in for an ice dam? Many homeowners throughout Massachusetts misunderstand icicles coming from the gutters to be the surefire sign of ice dams. However, a more accurate way to identify if a home is under threat of an ice dam forming is to look at the snowpack on the roof. If you see areas on the roof where snow has melted, and other areas that have maintained their snow accumulation, chances are the home suffers from poor air sealing in the attic and uneven or lacking insulation levels. The more snow that accumulates on your roof, the better your insulation and air sealing!

Preventing Ice Dams - Start with a Free Virtual Home Energy Assessment

So how can you prevent this from happening at your home? It all starts with verifying exactly where your home is losing heat with a virtual home energy assessment. This allows our team to gain insights into how your home is performing, and where there is room for improvement. 

We often recommend home improvements like attic insulation and air sealing. If needed, air sealing upgrades are complimentary following the virtual home energy assessment and insulation upgrades qualify for a savings of up to 75% through the State Program

Once your assessment is complete,  depending on your needs, you may receive a package with complimentary energy savings items, like power strips and LED lights. You will also receive a custom recommended plan for how to best approach your home energy upgrade projects, and Mass Energy Experts will be your one point of contact for all of the ensuing work and Energy saving rebates!

Here’s what one of our recent customers had to say about how their experience with us in preventing future ice dams on their home: 

“Our experience with Mass Energy was extremely positive from start to finish. The installers Mike and Joe were very knowledgeable, hard-working and friendly. They provided our home with a much needed update. We are grateful for this hard work because our home will be free of ice dams and all the damage they cause and more energy efficient so our bills will be lower. Thank you for taking the time to explain the work that you were doing and all the benefits we will reap because of your hard work.” -- Terri P. 

Looking to avoid the headache of ice dams once and for all? Schedule a Free virtual home energy assessment with Mass Energy Experts! Call (617) 933-9094 or get in touch here.