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Tips from NYSERDA for Preventing Ice Dams on Roofs This Winter

Cash back, Low-Interest Financing Available through Home Performance with ENERY STAR®

January 09, 2012

Ice dams caused damage to many homes last winter, but smart homeowners can take steps to prevent roof damage now to protect their homes this winter and going forward. 

In winter, the source of a leaky roof is often an ice dam. Ice dams form when heated air from inside a home leaks into the attic and warms the underside of the roof, causing snow and ice on the roof to melt. The melted water then drains along the roof to the cold overhang and refreezes, causing an ice dam. The ice dam enables the trapped water to get under the roof shingles, causing water to leak inside.

One sign that your home may be in danger of an ice dam is the presence of icicles hanging from your roof in winter. If you’ve seen icicles in the past, you may want to get ahead of any ice dam problems by getting a free or reduced-cost comprehensive energy assessment through Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®, a program administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA). NYSERDA also provides financial incentives for energy improvements, such as cash back and low-interest financing.

NYSERDA recommends the following ice dam prevention tips:

  • Seal air leaks: Seal air leaks and duct air leaks in your attic to stop warm air leakage, the source of ice dam problems.
  • Add insulation: After sealing leaks, add additional insulation in your attic.
  • Check ventilation: Provide adequate attic ventilation so the underside of the roof and outside air are at the same temperature. Check to make sure attic insulation is not blocking roof ventilation. Incorrect ventilation can also cause additional problems, such as mold and mildew. 
  • Clean gutters: Clean leaves and other debris from gutters before the first snow. This will help prevent ice build-up in gutters.
  • Hire an accredited contractor: Hire a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR contractor accredited through the Building Performance Institute (BPI) and approved by NYSERDA to conduct an in-home comprehensive energy assessment. The comprehensive assessment will not only identify specific home improvements to prevent future ice dams, but will also recommend ways to reduce energy use, save money and improve the health and safety of your home. This “whole house” approach can cut energy costs by $700 annually. Once the assessment is completed, NYSERDA provides financial incentives and financing options with low interest rates to help pay for improvements. To learn how you can participate in Home Performance with ENERGY STAR, receive a free comprehensive energy assessment, obtain a list of contractors and read about financing alternatives, visit nyserda.ny.gov/residential or call toll-free 1-877-NY-SMART (1-877-697-6278).
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect our environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York since 1975

Last Updated: 05/14/2013

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