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Winter Around the Corner? Essential Checklist for Roof Ice Dam Proofing

June 30, 2017

The first thing we do before we can welcome winter, is to prepare for the cold temperatures. We pull out winter clothes from the trunk, inspect the heating system, go shopping for more winter clothes, and get the car “winter-ready”. Most people however, forget that their roof needs equal attention in preparation for winters. One of the common roof-related issues homeowners face in winter is ice damming. Ice damming is a winter roofing problem that affects slope roofs the most. It is caused by poor roofing ventilation and a warm attic space. If left untreated, the effects of ice damming can be extensive including damage to various roofing system components such as gutters.

Ice Dam Formation

A roof ice dam is formed when heat from within the home rises and melts ice accumulated on the roof. The melted ice flows down the roof slope until it reaches the eave line and gutter, where, due to low temperatures outside and separation from the warm roof, the ice refreezes. However, the continuous melting of ice and flow of water from the ridges expands the icicles until they finally block the flow of subsequent melted snow. The water then gathers on the roof resulting in damage to the roofing system.

Preventive Measures

The icicles dripping from the gutter won’t fade away anytime soon, especially if the weather forecast is sub-zero temperatures for next few days. Do not try to remove them on your own. Removing icicles with no proper experience, tools, and/or understanding may cause you severe injuries as falling chunks of ice are highly unpredictable. Here are a few tips that will help you deal with icicles, ice dams, frozen gutters, and pipes in a safe and efficient manner.

Tip 1: It is easy to ensure the prevention of ice dam through adequate insulation and roof ventilation in new homes. If it’s an existing roof, you can get additional insulation and mechanical ventilation to prevent ice damming. Usually ice damming occurs when the attic temperature is above 30° F as compared to outdoor temperatures below 22°F. Proper insulation and ventilation can keep the roof/attic temperatures below 30°F.

Tip 2: Before snow converts into an ice dam, remove snow from the roof using special tools such as the rake. Shoveling the entire roof off the snow can prevent the formation of an ice dam as well.

Tip 3: Use snow proof roofing material, such as a metal roof-to mitigate the effects of ice damming.

Tip 4: If the build-up on the roof is difficult to remove or you lack experience, hire a trained professional. A professional knows what kind of equipment is required to ensure safety and fix the problem without causing damage to the roof.

Tip 5: Install a roof membrane as stipulated under US building codes. It helps in preventing ‘leakages’ from ice damming but does nothing to stop the formation or buildup of an ice dam.

Conclusion

An ice dam is a common winter problem for homeowners. However, one mistake that most homeowners make, is to attack the roof and ice dam with hammers and various chipping tools. This is dangerous, and also damages the property. Should you wish to learn more on the prevention and removal of ice damming, connect with one of our representatives for a no-obligation free consultation.

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