After the impact of winter storms, like those that swept through the northwest, it's important that you understand how to protect your roof in cold weather from risks like ice dams. If you've never heard the term before, here is a quick overview of what ice dams are, how they form, and things you can do to prevent them.
The warm air that your home produces travels upward, and when it does it goes through the attic and melts the snow from the top of the roof. The areas at the edge of the roof are much colder, so as the water reaches the eaves (the edge of the roof) it will freeze again, forming a solid wall of ice. As water continues to melt from the top of the roof, the dam grows. The best way to battle Ice Dams, is to be pro active in preventative maintenance process.
The best way to prevent ice dams from forming is to keep temperatures constant in your attic, so the top of the roof and the eaves are the same temperature. Often this requires several different fixes. First, a homeowner should check attic insulation levels and add insulation if needed to prevent too much warm air escape from inside the home. Next, check ventilation to make sure that the warm air that does make it to the attic can be channeled outside. It's also a good idea to check the gutters to make sure they are working properly so when ice and snow do melt they have a place to go.