What’s the Deal with Ice Dams?

Winter is well underway in New England, and most of us are worried about school delays, slippery commutes, and scraping off our frozen cars. One problem that some homeowners have to contend with during the snowy months is these “damn” ice dams. While many of us are aware of the leaking water problems that ice dams can cause, there’s an unforeseen consequence that may not be on our radar: moist walls are an invitation for termites and ants.

What’s an Ice Dam?

Gutters can clog up with snow and ice during storms, preventing the melting snow from properly draining. The trapped snow builds up and forms an icy layer, or dam, on the edge of the roof. As more and more snow piles behind the ice dam and starts to melt, water eventually collects underneath the shingles and can leak directly into your home. This causes a potential headache for homeowners, as the water from ice dams can damage walls, ceilings, insulation, and drywall.

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How Can Ice Dams Invite Termites and Carpenter Ants?

It’s no secret that many pests thrive in moist environments. Termites and carpenter ants in particular are attracted to damp, rotting wood, so a home damaged by a leaking ice dam can be the perfect place for them to nest and breed.

If termites get inside, they will feed on the chronically moist wood. As “silent destroyers,” termites may go unnoticed until they’ve already caused significant structural damage to your home. While carpenter ants bore through the wood instead of actually feeding on it, they can cause similar levels of damage. As a homeowner, it’s important to know the signs of these pests.

How Can I Prevent the Pests Caused by Ice Dams?

Your best bet is to prevent the ice dam from forming in the first place.

  • Remove snow from the roof before it hardens. Frozen snow can cause severe damage to the shingles if you attempt to remove it.
  • Regularly clean out your gutters. Consider investing in a gutter guard– these can make cleanup easier.
  • Repair or replace any damaged roof shingles or fascia boards.
  • Make sure your home’s attic or crawlspace is properly insulated.
  • Close or insulate gaps around pipes, vents, and cables.
  • If you have a chimney, install flashing to prevent leaks.

If an ice dam has already formed and you want it removed, your safest option may be to call a roofing company to melt or steam it off. Removing it yourself could be dangerous and cause damage to the roof.

These preventative measures may not be enough to stop the pests from entering your home. If you have any questions or need some help getting them out, feel free to give Graduate a call.

Got an urgent pest problem? Email Sheena.

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