How To: Prevent Ice Dams On Roofs
Being a homeowner is a big responsibility and being a good homeowner means there are certain obligations when it comes to repair and maintenance.
With every season comes a new home maintenance challenge. A homeowner might look at the beautiful fall colours and shudder at the thought of having to rake up all those leaves. Or with winter coming to Vancouver, instead of enjoying the snowy mountains, a homeowner might be thinking of the extra winter jobs around the home.
One danger for homes that comes along with winter is in the form of a sneaky roofing problem called ice dams. Ice dams are not always visible just by looking at a roof and are sometimes not discovered until they’ve done some real damage.
In order to keep you on the up and up when it comes to ice dams, we thought we’d give you some advice. This will help you spot them if they’ve already started to form, and provide some solutions to keep them from ruining your roof.
First, What Exactly Is An Ice Dam?
Ice dams occur over a few steps. First, the weather becomes cold enough for ice to build up along the edge of your roof. Next, the weather becomes just warm enough for some snow or ice to melt and pool up behind the thicker frozen parts. This water then freezes again and the cycle continues until eventually, you have an ice dam.
Depending on how long it goes on before the problem is dealt with, water/ice can creep back up the shingles of your roof ten feet or more. And this is where the real problems begin. As that trapped water starts to thaw, it can start to seep through the shingles, through the roof, and into your home, causing a mess and headaches for days.
We all know that roof repairs are no small undertaking, so prevention is key. And fear not, there are solutions to ice dams.
Fix Your Roof From The Inside
Ice dams often form because heat is escaping through your attic and heating up the frozen ice on your roof from underneath. One solution is to keep your attic cool. Not only will this help prevent ice dams from forming, melting, and damaging your home, it will also help to keep heating costs down and will save you money in the meantime.
To make sure your attic isn’t moonlighting as a sauna, take the time to make sure that warm air isn’t escaping your living space and accumulating in the attic. Air leaks happen all the time and some key places to look are if there are gaps or cracks in the drywall, around plumbing pipes, around the chimney, or any other access points to the attic.
To keep all that warm air in involves some solutions you might be able to manage yourself. You can fill in the cracks or holes with caulk or foam. Or you might need to simply add more insulation in the attic.
If you’re not sure exactly what to do, don’t be afraid to call in a professional for th job. If you do attempt to fix the air leak problem, make sure that you are properly dressed and protected for the occasion by wearing a mask and covering up your skin.
Then Fix Your Roof From The Outside
If your attic is well insulated, or if you don’t have an attic to begin with, you might need to solve the problem from the outside. Thankfully there are some tricks and tools you can use to make the job manageable.
Depending on the height and slope of your roof, clearing the snow off your roof after a snowfall or after a windy day can help prevent ice dams. A snow rake is a tool to help you do just that and can be found at most hardware stores. However, be sure to put safety first and don’t attempt to use a snow rake on a high or sharply sloped roof.
You can also consider adding heating cables — zigzag shaped wires that heat the snow with the flip of a switch — to your roof. Or if you are getting some major repairs before the winter, you can ask that the roofer installs an ice-and-water barrier under the shingles which will add a layer of protection (this is an expensive solution otherwise as you would have to rip up the existing shingles).
Depending on your home and your roof, solutions for ice dams will vary from case to case. No matter your approach, just remember that prevention is best and stopping the problem before it becomes a disaster is something you won’t regret.
If you have any questions about ice dams or roofing maintenance, give us a call at Taves Roofing. We are here and happy to help.