Ice Dam Season…What Next?

Two ice dams form on a residential homeBy Ryan Davies
CEC Director of Customer & Energy Services

As Central Oregon has seen record snow fall in the past few winters, ice dams are becoming a more prominent issue.  There are many factors that lead to ice dam formation, but in summary the primary culprits are heat loss from your home, snow cover and outside temperatures.  As heat escapes your home it can melt a portion of the snow on the roof.  Gravity then steps in and the water travels down the roof, until it reaches a portion of the roof that is below freezing.  This process continues and builds a frozen block of water (ice dam) typically at the eaves or valleys of a roof.

So, how can you prevent this from happening?  The fix is an air tight, well-insulated, and properly ventilated home.  Sealing air leakage paths (penetrations through the walls and ceiling) is the first step to a path of mitigating ice dams for any age home.  Through CEC’s Weatherization Program, members can work with an approved contractor to reduce air leakage and receive a financial incentive to pay for a portion of the improvement.

The next step is proper insulation, and if your home was built prior to 1992 there is typically room for improvement.  Owners of site-built electrically heated homes constructed before 1992, and all manufactured homes, are eligible for a free home energy audit.  The home energy audit will identify vulnerable areas in your home, and provide recommendations and qualifying incentive amounts for various improvements including insulation.  If your home was built between 1992 and today, your home contains a fair amount of insulation and should be properly ventilated.  However, there could still be room for improvement.

Proper ventilation is the final step.  CEC recommends passive ventilation, and not mechanically assisted ventilation (powered attic fans).  Each home is different, and may require a different ventilation strategy.

To discuss the specifics of your home, and learn more about the opportunities to improve energy efficiency and prevent ice dams, call CEC and ask to speak with one of our Energy Specialists.

Call Today: 541-548-2144