For home owners in cold states, ice dams are a real inherent danger and cause of property damage in the winter time. Once dams are caused by heat escaping from the roof or attic, which warms the rooftop. This warming causes snow to melt which runs down the roof, then when it reaches a cold point of the roof or gutter, it turns to ice. More water runs into this ice and very quickly an ice dam is created. The ice will build up very thick and restrict the drainage of any remaining water, causing the ice dam to grow in size. The ice builds up hourly, and eventually reaches back up to the heated part of the roof, then digs underneath the singles, melts and the melt water runoff works its way into your home. Some ice dams can cause enormous damage, while others can cause very little damage, because no two ice dams are alike, neither will be the damage. Ice dams are the result of heat loss and one or both of these two factors: poor ventilation in attics or the lack of enough insulation for the roof and attic.
What is certain however is if you do have damage from an ice dam, it will need to be addressed quickly, less further damage result. This is especially true with interior damage caused by ice dams. Ice dams can cause water damaged ceilings, peeling paint, damaged plaster,wet insulation, gutter damage, roof shingle damage, soffits, and even interior walls and ceilings damage. If these types of damages are allowed to stay wet, more damage will result so the first step in addressing this type of damage is to thoroughly dry the area and remove any ice from the area that can melt and soak the area again. Sadly ice dams are well known for causing water leaks and heavy water damage that is not readily apparent until the maximum damage has already occurred.
If you have had ice dams and suspect you may have interior damage, call in a professional that is experienced with interior and exterior repairs for ice dam damage. A reputable company can repair your roof, replace singles, underlayment and sheathing, as well as replace or repair any gutter damage that may have occurred. Also they should be versed in addressing any heat loss issues that may have resulted in the ice dam damage in the first place, as all ice dams are the result of heat loss. For indoor damage they should be experienced in repairing of interior walls and ceilings, as well as be able to address and assess any potential mold or mildew issues that will likely result from the water damage that you have sustained. Mold and mildew are secondary forms of damage following water damage from an ice dam, and mold will indeed grow in cold temperatures. Any damaged insulation or drywall will also need to be replaced.
If you have ice dams every year or signs of ice dams such as heavy formations of icicles along the roof edges, you should have your home assessed for heat loss and ventilation issues. Your attic should be cold during the winter to prevent ice dams and the resulting water damage. A reputable company that deals in ice dam damage, removal and repair can assist you in addressing these issues to prevent future ice dams and costly repairs in the future.