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Prevention of Ice Dams at Your Montana Home

Wintertime in Montana brings cold temperatures, snow, and ice. The presence of snow and icicles on your roof may look pretty, but they could be pointing to a serious problem on your roof: ice dams!

Ice dams are a common problem in Montana as well as other areas of the country with lots of cold and snow. But how are they formed and how can you prevent them? Find out below.

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What Are Ice Dams?

Ice dams are thick ridges of solid ice that build up along the eaves of your house. They often occur when warm air in the attic space heats the underside of the roof, causing the existing snow to melt. The water then makes its way down the roof, eventually coming in contact with the deck over the eaves, which is not exposed to heat from the attic. This is where the water re-freezes and builds up ice, blocking the subsequent run-off and creating a “dam.”

How to Recognize Ice Dams

There are several signs that may indicate the presence of an ice dam:

  • Ice and snow build-up on top of gutters or the lower edge of the roof
  • Icicles along the roof’s edge or behind gutters
  • Visible ice or water on your home’s siding
  • Ice emanating from your soffit vents or through the soffit itself
  • Water or ice inside or around a window frame
  • Leaks in your attic

What Damage Can Ice Dams Cause?

Ice dams cause water to back up under your roof’s shingles and drain into your home. The water works its way under your roof, covering and flows into the attic. Eventually, it will drip into the insulation, ceilings, exterior walls, and other areas, causing ruined paint and sheetrock, stained and sagging ceilings, warped floors, and even mold and mildew.

If the ice dam breaks free, it can pull shingles and gutters off with it, damaging anything it falls on: shrubs, windowsills, cars, pets, and people.

How to Prevent Ice Dams

The main cause of ice dams is poor insulation and vent space under the roof. The best way to prevent an ice dam is to seal all points where warm air leaks out, insulate the areas where the warm air is coming from to prevent conduction and convection of heat through the ceiling, and vent the space between the insulation and the roof sheathing, so any heat that does leak through is carried away.

A few other tips for preventing ice dams include:

  • Adding the recommended amount of insulation to your attic
  • Raking snow off your roof after a heavy snowfall
  • Ventilate the eaves and ridge
  • Installing heat cables
  • Sealing and insulating ducts
  • Covering your attic hatch
  • Adding or repairing flashing around chimneys

How to Handle Damage From Ice Dams

If your home does suffer water damage, it is important to turn to restoration professionals to minimize risk to your health and safety. The severity of water damage can range from category 1 to 3:

  • Category 1 involves uncontaminated water that does not pose significant health risks; however, this type of damage can develop into a category 2 concern within a day.
  • Category 2involves gray water with small amounts of contamination and can turn into a Category 3 problem if unresolved for more than 48 hours.
  • Category 3consists of black water contamination. Black water is highly polluted and can cause significant health problems.

Hiring a professional team allows you to protect yourself from potential exposure to harmful bacteria and pathogens that could lead to severe illness. It will also ensure that the cleanup process is completed correctly the first time.

If your commercial property needs restoration services, contact Alpha-Omega Disaster Restoration for consultation. Our team of professionals is available 24/7 to come and assess the damage done to your commercial property. We can document the situation and damage, working directly with your insurance adjuster to provide you the fastest and best restoration possible.

Alpha-Omega is a fully certified restoration company serving Billings, MT, and the surrounding areas.

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"Luckily I have never needed to use a restoration company, but as someone who has worked closely with Alpha Omega, they have treated my clients very well, and have always been honest and very transparent. Although their whole team is very professional and punctual, Carissa and Sonya have been great to work with."


"Best service in town! I had water leaking through my basement ceiling from the overflow drain in my upstairs bathtub. They showed up immediately after I called, they were super professional and helped me find the leak and even told me how I can fix it myself. I was so impressed how well the turned my problem around."

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