One easy way to spot a possible roof leak in your home? Look for icicles! If you notice icicles hanging from your gutters, it could mean that you have an ice dam that has formed on your roof. Ice dams can trap water underneath your shingles, which will eventually cause a leak. 

Ice dams are a prevalent cause of roof leaks in Louisville. Rest assured, while an ice dam is something that needs immediate attention, it does not always mean you need a roof replacement. Often roof leaks, especially when caught early on, can be repaired.

At AIC Roofing, we provide our customers with a best-in-class roofing experience. Our goal is to exceed your expectations before, during, and after your roofing project. As part of our mission, we want homeowners to feel knowledgeable about their roofing system, so we openly and honestly answer common questions from homeowners that most roofing companies won’t.

In this article, we’ll explain the following:

· What an ice dam is

· How an ice dam forms

· How to spot an ice dam

· How to spot a general roof leak

· How to fix a roof leak

What are ice dams?

Ice dams form when snowmelt from further up on your roof cannot drain into your gutters because of frozen snow/ice at the eaves of your roof. Without proper snow and ice removal, this build-up can become very large and cause icicles to form, completely blocking water runoff from your roof.

When melting snow and ice cannot drain off your roof and becomes trapped on it, it can cause a leak. Anytime water ‘stands’ or is trapped on your roof for long periods, there is an increased risk of a leak. If you notice ceiling stains, sagging ceilings, mold or mildew in your attic, or even a mildew-like smell – a roof leak could be the culprit.

How does ice damming form?

Ice damming typically forms on your roof through this process:

· Rising hot air melts the snow and ice on the top of your roof

· The melted water passes over the eaves and begins to freeze again

· There is a ‘snowball’ effect where more and more water freezes together, forming a large ice dam becomes along the eaves of your roof

· Melting water is unable to drain and is trapped by the ice dam

· Eventually, the water will penetrate underneath the shingles, causing a leak and, ultimately, water damage.

How can you prevent ice dams?

Preventing ice dams starts with regular roof maintenance. This maintenance includes:

· Cleaning your gutters after the leaves have fallen in your area. Debris in your gutter significantly contributes to an ice dam forming.

· Getting your roof inspected annually. Getting your roof inspected annually is a great way to ensure there aren’t any existing issues that may make your roof more prone to ice damming or leaks (they check for missing shingles, rusted nails, loose nails, etc.). Roof inspections are free (at least with AIC Roofing and Construction!) and should be part of your yearly home maintenance checklist.

Maintenance isn’t the only way to prevent ice dams and roof leaks. A few other items to consider include the following:

· Adding attic insulation to ensure hot air does not escape so easily. This added insulation can help prevent snow up on your roof from melting at such a quick rate.

· Ensuring your roof is adequately ventilated. When ridge vents are correctly paired with soffit vents, cold air will be circulated under the entire roof, ensuring attic ventilation.

· Protect your roof with an ice and water shield. In Louisville, ice and water shields are required by building code. However, if your roof is over 20 years old, you may not have an ice and water shield. Ice and water shields are rubberized membranes that form a moisture-tight barrier around shingle nails and help prevent leaks in your home. While ice and water shields won’t prevent ice damming, they help prevent leaks.

A professional roofer can put on ice and water shields without replacing your entire roof. However, if your roof is over 20 years old and you’re experiencing leaks, adding an ice and water shield would simply be a Band-Aid solution. In that instance, a roof replacement may be the most cost-effective solution.

Do you have a roof leak?

If you notice icicles hanging from your gutters, it’s a red flag. If your home is experiencing this, get it inspected immediately to prevent costly damage. There are a few more ways to identify possible roof leaks in your home, including:

· Ceiling stains: These are perhaps the most common sign of roof leaks. If you notice a brown stain on your ceiling or around your lights, this could be caused by a roof leak.

· Sagging ceiling: If your ceiling is sagging, this could be a sign of an advanced roof leak. A sagging ceiling could soon fall from the water damage due to a leak. This should be addressed immediately to prevent expensive damage.

· Wall stains: These are found less frequently than ceiling stains but can still be tell-tale signs of a roof leak. Water can leak from the eaves of your roof and stain your walls. Clogged gutters can also cause damage to fascia boards and, if left unchecked, eventually damage the walls of your home.

· Mold or Mildew: If you notice mold or mildew growth in your home,

· Odor: If you notice a mold or mildew-type smell, you’ll want to act quickly. Roof leaks can commonly cause mold or mildew growth, especially if the issue is in your attic. There could be an issue with your siding, windows, or another area.

· Ice dams: As we’ve covered here, ice dams cause water to pool, which will eventually cause a leak and damage to your roof and home.

 Next steps – fixing your roof leak

If you notice a leak or icicles forming on your roof, we recommend getting the issue inspected by a top-rated roofing company near you. Finding a trustworthy Louisville roofing contractor can be difficult, but we lay out some essential tips from questions to ask and red flags to be on the lookout for here. Roof inspections are free and have no obligation. That means if there is an issue, you can get more bids (we recommend collecting 2-3 bids before hiring a roofing company) to ensure you’re getting a fair assessment and price.

Roof leaks don’t always mean your home needs a total roof replacement. Often a professional roofer can easily repair leaks. If there aren’t issues like old age or something systematic, they can replace the affected shingles, and a roofing team can install an ice and water shield if necessary. Don’t let a few hundred dollars in repairs cost you thousands in water damage and mold remediation.

AIC Roofing and Construction has served the Central Kentucky community since 2003. We are in the top 2% of roofing contractors in North America to obtain the GAF MasterElite certification and are an Owens Corning Platinum Preferred contractor. If you’re looking for a top-rated Louisville roofing company – we’d love to see if we would be a good fit for your project. Contact us today to schedule your free roof inspection.

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