Ice Dams and Prevention

Blustery, icy, and frigid winter weather certainly delivers many obvious detrimental effects. Slick roads, broken tree limbs, and burst water pipes devastate people’s day-to-day lives. In the world of roofing, among other concerns that may be noticed by the naked eye such as clogged drain pipes or chimney malfunctions, a major harmful outcome of snow on the roof during this harsh season is ice dam formation. Understanding how ice dams form as well as undertaking valuable steps for their prevention will absolutely help property owners to avoid potential water damage to residences and businesses.

Snow covering a roof may be affected by heat rising from inside a dwelling or even heat emitting from exhaust stacks and chimneys placed near the roof ridges. The heat from within the building continues into the attic and warms the roof deck thus melting the snow which then runs down roofs until it drifts to an area where the heat cannot reach. If the temperature at those lower sections of the roofs remains at freezing or below (<32 degrees Fahrenheit), the water freezes and forms ice dams. As this ice disallows water to freely flow off the roof, the water instead makes its way through spaces between shingles and/or other exterior cracks before entering the attic and, eventually, the ceilings and walls of the building. Failure to recognize this condition could lead to extensive material damage as well as mold or electrical issues. However, understanding how to prevent ice dams will undeniably help protect a home from damage.

Two immediate and inexpensive methods may be considered stopgaps before property owners implement greater long-term solutions. One step is to remove the snow from the roof. Various types of sweeps or brooms exist to accommodate this process, though those undertaking this action should exercise extreme caution as the roofs may be exceedingly slippery. Another solution, though only a temporary fix, is to create channels that allow the water to continue flowing off the roof. Again, one must exercise caution as chipping the ice may damage roofing materials and the use of warm water could result in the formation of further ice dams should the temperatures go below freezing.

Other more effective long-term treatments should be executed to better avert ice dams. Fusion Roofing and Restoration reliably provides each of the proceeding services. One such remedy, whether for older buildings or new construction, is to add ice and water shields at the eaves and valleys. The purpose of the shields, which are composed of a compound of rubberized asphalt with a sticky adhesive, are to prevent both forward and backward flowing water that has gotten underneath shingles. Along with producing a more waterproof layer over the roof deck, a second step is increasing the amount of insulation, particularly insulation with an R-value between R-38 and R-60, which should result in less heat loss from inside the home into the attic space. A fourth measure is to increase attic ventilation with proper intake and exhaust, as well as venting any bathroom fans outside the roof. Proper ventilation assists in the circulation of cold air over the internal wood of the roof deck, thus keeping the entire surface at comparable temperatures to prevent ice buildup.

Preventing ice dams extends the life of the roof, the ceilings and walls, and the entire structure. While some of the procedures may be done by property owners, for the most secure and proper installation of necessary precautions, a competent and dependable company should be employed. Fusion Roofing and Restoration provides customers with supremely safe and secure roofing systems to ensure minimizing and even eradicating potential damage caused by brutal winter conditions. Fusion can be reached at the website fusionroofing.com, by calling 513-715-1306 or 859-221-8420, or by emailing us at fusion@fusionroofing.com.

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