When it comes to taking care of their homes, there are many concerns home owners face in the winter. For roofing issues, the biggest challenge is dealing with the formation of ice dams. Stay Dry Roofing in Indianapolis looks at what they do and how dealing with ice dams in a timely manner can save you from serious gutter or roof repair, or even premature roof replacement.
Ice Dam Roof Damage
Ice dam roof damage is among the most commonly reported insurance claims for homeowners in the winter. An ice dam is a hump of ice that accumulates on the roof along the edge of the eaves. An ice dam can damage your roof, tearing and gouging shingles, as well as harm the inside of your home. The accumulating ice and melting water can seep into the home and weaken the roof due to excessive weight from the ice and water. Dealing with ice dams before they become a serious problem is imperative.
There are several things homeowners can do to help them avoid getting an ice dam or, at the very least, to reduce the risk of damage when one has already formed on the roof. But there’s really only one cure and effective way of dealing with ice dams: the use of better sealing, insulation, and venting for both the attic and roof area. Stay Dry Roofing has all the solutions you need to stay on top of your roofing maintenance during the winter.
Why do Ice Dams Form?
An ice dam can form on the roof during snow falls and periods when there are fluctuating temperatures during the winter. They commonly form when the roof over the attic has been warmed to the point that the under layer of snow on the roof melts. The water trickles under the layer of snow and can seep down through the roof until it reaches the eaves of the roof. This area is colder because it is not in as direct contact with the home as the rest of the roof, so the water refreezes in this area.
As the water freezes, it forms into a dam of ice that continues to grow and mound as melted water adds to the accumulation and freezes, too. The flatter the pitch of the roof, the easier it is for an ice dam to form and grow because it is easier for the water to accumulate. Dealing with ice dams is one of those things homeowners have to be ready for when they live in areas that get brutally cold winters.
How Does an Ice Dam Damage the Roof?
Ice dam roof damage occurs when an ice dam is allowed to grow and is not kept in check. An ice dam can get to the point where it is big enough to cause major problems with the roof. If dealing with ice dams is put off, melted water backs up behind the ice wall and, since it has nowhere to go (and the heat of the roof over the home stays warm), the water can seep underneath the shingles. Eventually, this water will drip into the roof structure. This can lead to rot and mildew, drip into the insulation, and cause problems in the ceiling and walls.
If the ice gets too heavy the roof can collapse. And if chunks break off the roof, they can fall and damage gutters, landscaping, cars, or hurt pets and people. Dealing with ice dams is a big concern for many home owners, and preventing ice dam roof damage is the best way to cope during the cold weather.
Dealing with Ice Dams that have Formed
If you already have ice dams that have formed, there are 3 basic ways to address the problem. They are:
#1. Get rid of the ice dam gradually by breaking it apart into small chucks. Never use an ax or anything sharp when dealing with ice dams, or you will cut into the shingles. Instead, tap lightly with a blunt mallet. It is best to call in roofing experts to help with this because roofs in winter are very slippery and can stiffen in frigid weather. Without the proper equipment, you can easily damage shingles and tiles. Even worse, you can put your own health at risk through falls or injury.
#2. Clear out gutters and downspouts so they are not filling up and adding to the ice accumulation. Again, this is hazardous work involving being on a ladder, and it can be difficult to clean and clear gutters without damaging metal or plastic that has become brittle due to the cold.
#3. Experienced roofers melt troughs through the ice with a specially designed calcium chloride ice melter when dealing with ice dams. Do NOT use rock salt! It can corrode gutters, stain and fade paint, damage tile, and the salt water run-off can ruin and kill grass and plants. If you can comfortably work from a well-maintained, stable ladder, you can use a simple tube of cloth, fill it with calcium chloride, tie off the top, and lay it vertically across the ice dam.
As it melts through the ice, it will melt away part of the ice dam and make it easier to slide chucks off the roof. However, again, use caution to avoid creating ice dam roof damage of your own! Keep in mind that we stress that this is better done by an experienced roofer. Stay Dry Roofing offers affordable, practical solutions to dealing with ice dams that have already formed. If ice dam roof damage has already occurred, depending on the severity, it can often be repaired during the same visit.
Preventing Ice Dams
The best way to go about dealing with ice dams is to prevent ice dam roof damage in the first place. There are two basic ways to do this:
#1. Scrape snow off the roof to keep it from accumulating and growing to the point that an ice dam can begin to form. This needs to be done in advance to prevent the need for dealing with ice dams after they have formed. This will require you to either stand on the ground or on a ladder and brush snow off, or to climb onto the roof and push snow down to the ground. All are risky, so it is best to call in roofing experts to do any snow removal for you this season.
#2. Before the snows begin to fall, you can spray your roofing surface with a water proofing spray that helps block melting ice water from seeping in. It will also create a slick surface that ice and snow can slide off of easily. Once again, however, this requires getting up on the roof. Consider having a professional service do this for you.
The Experts in Dealing with Ice Dams
All of these points discussed so far address the ice dam symptoms, but are not talking to the underlying problem, which is the warm roof that contacts the snow and causes snow melt and ice formation. At Stay Dry Roofing, we are leaders in dealing with a range of winter roof concerns, one of the most common being ice dams and the associated water damage that can occur.
The best ways to prevent ice dam roof damage in the first place are:
#1. Seal any and all areas where warm air leaks into the roofing area from the living space below. This warmer air can get into the spaces immediately below the roof sheathing and cause the melting of snow that leads to ice dam formation.
#2. Insulate the living space. This is important not just to conserve energy and keep the home at a comfortable temperature, but it is also important to ensure the roofing area is insulated well enough to prevent conduction and convection of heat into the attic and roofing area.
#3. Vent the space between the insulation and the roof sheathing. This is an important step. It helps to ensure that any heat that does leak through into the attic and roof area is carried away rather than being allowed to build and warm up the roof and cause snow and ice melting.
Contact Stay Dry Roofing
If you need help making sure your roof is ready for winter snow, contact us at (317) 308-7773 and discover the Stay Dry Roofing difference for yourself! Estimates are always FREE.
We are proud to serve the Indianapolis community and the surrounding area, standing by our commitment to quality and excellence. Prevention is key in dealing with ice dams. While you can’t prevent the weather from changing, and there is no way to keep 100 percent of the snow and ice off your roof, there are things you can do to keep it under control.
Stay on top of routine removal to keep it from accumulating. This is why winter preparation work for your roof is such important maintenance. It’s not something homeowners cannot afford to skimp on. Dealing with ice dams, and the extensive ice dam roof damage that can come with them, is a big deal.
So get the experts at Stay Dry Roofing to help you protect your roof this winter. Contact us at (317) 308-7773 today to set up your consultation before the next big snow begins!