Log homes have stood the tests of time and weather for centuries. They're exceptionally durable, which is why many people choose to live in log homes still. But just because they're exceptionally durable doesn't mean your log home doesn't need a bit of occasional maintenance. One of the big issues of winter for any home is ice dams.
What Are Ice Dams?
Have you ever seen really long, impressive looking icicles hanging from someone's gutters or eaves? Most often, those are the most visible sign of ice dams. Essentially, an ice dam forms when heat from the interior of your home escapes through your attic and into your roof. The heat melts any snow that has accumulated on your roof.
As the snow melts, it rolls down the roof until it makes it to the eaves, where there is no attic to provide heat. There, the melted snow re-freezes into ice. This is the start of that very long icicle, but it's not the icicle that's the problem.
Why Are Ice Dams a Problem?
Ice will continue to accumulate on your roof as long as heat is melting the snow on your roof. As that ice accumulates, it can back up under the shingles of your log home's roof. Once under the shingles, the ice will again be exposed to the heat escaping from your attic. The heat causes the ice to melt, and that water will then leak into the sub-roofing, and eventually into your attic. If left unchecked, ice dams can cause major water damage, a serious issue for log homes in particular.
Since water damage can be so detrimental to log homes, it's important to stop ice dams before they start. Here are a few ways to prevent ice dams, and a few ways to deal with them if it's too late for you to get ahead of them this winter:
Preventing Ice Dams
There's really only one cause of ice dams, and it's heat escaping through your roof. Here's how to prevent them, before they even start building up:
Make Sure Your Roof Is Insulated and Your Attic is Properly Ventilated
As long as you have proper air flow throughout your home, ice dams shouldn't be a problem. If you're worried about ice dams, or you had ice dams last year and are hoping to get ahead of them this year, consider adding more insulation.
You can hire an expert to spray insulation in your home's attic, or, depending on your DIY skills and your log home, you may be able to peel back the existing insulation and add more where you find cracks.
Check out our previous blog for tips to find air leaks; this can also help you find problem spots in your attic that need repairing.
Clean the Gutters
Another good way to prevent ice dams is to make sure your gutters are clean. Gutters full of debris and fallen leaves can make ice dams worse, as they won't allow any melted snow to flow through them and away from your home. Instead, the debris will cause a blockage in your gutters, allowing water to collect and causing more damage.
Consider a Metal Roof
If you're just building your log home, or if you have plans to replace your log home's roof in the near future anyway, you may consider a metal roof. If you've had problems with ice dams in the past, a metal roof can help, just because it eliminates nearly all friction and allows snow buildup to simply slide right off your home.
Unlike asphalt shingles, with a metal roof there's very little for melted snow to grab onto when it re-freezes, which means it has a hard time building up. Additionally, metal roofs are far less porous than asphalt roofs, so even if your attic is losing heat, there's a smaller chance for melted water to seep through it into your home.
What To Do About Existing Ice Dams
If you didn't know about ice dams, or weren't able to stay ahead of them this year, you still have options. While it'll be in your best interest to re-insulate your log home's attic next year, there are a few ways to eliminate, or at least mitigate the effects of ice dams this year:
Low-power heat tape is a good way to try and stop ice dams from forming on a log home with an asphalt roof. The tape adheres to your roof and is powered by electricity. If you get the low-power ones, you can save yourself a bit of money on your electric bill.
Heat tape essentially warms the area where an ice dam would form, causing the snow to fall off the roof, rather than form icicles on your eaves. This stops ice from building up and causing snowmelt to seep into your roof.
Heat tape isn't a long-term solution, but it can work for a season until you can get your attic properly insulated and ventilated.
Snow stops are made specifically for metal roofs. They clamp to the eave of your roof, and just as their name suggests, stop snow from building up on your eaves and forming ice dams. Again, these are temporary solutions, but they can help you avoid water damage in your log home for at least a season if you're having problems.
*Please note that snow stops are only made for metal roofs, and shouldn't be used on asphalt roofs unless specifically stated.
In the end, the only way to completely avoid ice dams on your log home is to bump up the insulation in your home and make sure your attic is ventilating air properly. We all know that major water damage can wreak havoc on a log home, so keep yours safe by addressing ice dams before they form.
If you have questions about avoiding ice dams or repairing water damage caused by an ice dam, be sure to talk to the professionals at Timeless Wood Care Products. Our team of experts can help you find the right solution and product to repair any winter damage your log home may have sustained. Give us a call at (800) 564-2987 or contact us online today.