If you live in Michigan and own a home, then you absolutely need to know about ice dams. Water intrusion is the number one cause of damage to homes and that damage can be very costly. Ice dams are formed when snow melts on your roof, but freezes when it gets to the eaves (the part of a roof that overhangs the walls of a building). If the ice builds up, it can form a ridge that prevents water from draining. If the water cannot drain properly, there is only one place for it to go, and that is down into your house. This can happen to any roof, regardless of age or condition. The problem lies not with the roof itself, but by heat loss through the attic due to a lack of insulation and ventilation.
In 2013, Michigan was pounded with record breaking snow. Snow and ice was building up everywhere. Never experiencing any previous issues, I wasn't aware of the potential problem. At this point, I had already owned my home for 7 years. Walking in the bathroom one winter day, I was horrified to find water streaming down my bathroom wall. I'm pretty handy and work in real estate, so I was embarrassed and angry at myself that I had not recognized the problem before it became a huge issue.
I ended up having five different leaks all along the back of the house. I spent multiple days clearing ice and snow from my roof. If only I had realized sooner what was happening, I could have removed the snow with a roof rake. Snow is easy to remove when it is fresh, but wet snow and ice is a lot more difficult. On top of that, I had the lovely task of patching and painting all the interior damage. Before I fixed the cosmetics, I had my house inspected for mold and got recommendations of how to remedy the ice dam situation. Adding insulation and improving the ventillation of my attic has helped.
Large amounts of snow and temperatures that creep back and forth between thawing and freezing can exacerbate the forming of ice dams. That is the forecast for the next week so be careful. Make it a point to walk the perimeter of your home TODAY and look for ice build up. Check out the photos above and below. The first is my house while I was clearing away the ice and snow. You can see the thick ridge of ice that had built up. The others are shots of my bathroom mid repair where the worst damage happened. Altogether, I wasted a lot of time and money on something that is easily preventable. Learn from my mistake. Educate yourself on this subject and be vigilant so this doesn't happen to you.
Here is everything you need to know about how ice dams form, how to prevent them, and how to deal with them if they have already formed https://www.thisoldhouse.com/how-to/how-to-get-rid-ice-dams.
Great info on everything real estate.