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Prevent Ice Dam Roof Damage

Winter Roof Maintenance

Ice Dam Roof ProblemsRecent cold and snowy weather has once again reminded us that even Oklahoma homes are at risk for ice dam roof damage.

Sometimes accompanied by large icicle formations at the eave of your roof…

…an ice dam can cause all kinds of problems, to both the interior and to the exterior of your home.

That’s why it’s important to plan for and work to prevent ice dam formation.

In this post… we’re going to discuss problems associated with ice dams and prevention tips to help avoid them during the next winter storm.

What is an Ice Dam?

Ice Dam Formation

Courtesy of Owens Corning

An ice dam forms after a snow storm, when roof temperatures cause snow to melt on the upper part of the roof’s surface and refreeze near the eaves of the roof.

The result is an ice build-up at the roof edge, marked by icicle formation hanging from eaves or gutters.

Over subsequent days ice build-up prevents roof snow melt from flowing off the roof, and continued cold can cause the ice dam to get bigger and bigger.

Water then backs up the roof, where it can seep under shingles and leak down into the walls, ceiling and other interior areas of your home.

Without a quick response to ice dam formation, you could be looking at severe (and very expensive) damage.

What Causes Ice Dam Formation?

Ice dam formation relies on the presence of four factors:

#1 – Snow on the roof surface

#2 – Outside temperatures below 32º F

#3 – Warm roof surface temperature above 32º F

#4 – Roof surface temperature at eaves below 32º F

Most often, all four conditions come together when warm indoor air heats up the attic due to poor insulation and roof ventilation.

When warm air leaks from the living area of your home into the attic, it can warm up the roof from underneath.

A well-ventilated attic can disburse minor heat loss and help equalize the temperatures under the roof and above the roof. A cold roof surface is necessary to prevent ice dams.

In addition to warm roof temperatures, clogged gutters can make matters worse.

Leaves and sticks that clog gutters impede flow and hasten the formation of ice at roof eaves.

Photos of Ice Dams

Ice Dam Tile Roof
Ice Dam at Eaves & Valleys
Ice Dam at Eaves
Gutter Damage From Ice Dam

Ice dams can weigh hundreds of pounds and can put severe pressure on eaves, shingles, gutters, siding and other areas of your home.

Falling ice also presents a safety hazard to people and pets below.

NOTE: If you have an ice dam, please don’t climb on your roof.

If you are worried about ice dam roof damage, contact a professional roofer for assistance in removal or prevention of ice dams.

How Ice Dams Damage Your Home

Ice dams can damage your home in several ways, some of which require costly repair. The best way to deal with ice dams is to prevent them from happening.

  • Standing water on roof
  • Water seeps under shingles
  • Water saturates insulation
  • Water leaks into walls
  • Water leaks into ceiling
  • Damaged soffit or fascia
  • Gutter damage
  • Siding damage
  • Rotten moist roof deck
  • Structural damage from weight
  • Drywall or paint damage
  • Visible interior leaks
  • Water stains on ceiling
  • Water stains on walls
  • Wet insulation in attic

What to do if You Have an Ice Dam

If you notice any of the telltale signs of an ice dam, it’s important to get it addressed quickly…

…before your roof starts leaking.

A quick response can help you avoid thousands of dollars of potential roof and interior damage later on.

Bob Vila has offers several suggestions for how to deal with ice dams, all of which involve the removal of ice chunks.

Some of these suggestions include the following:

  • Melt ice dam with calcium chloride socks
  • Use Roofmelt tablets to melt channels in your roof
  • Break ice dam into small chunks for removal
  • Hire a professional for steam or manual ice removal

With any approach, extreme care must be taken to prevent large chunks of ice or snow from dislodging from the roof.

Also, you must take care to avoid damage to shingles or other roofing materials.

If you don’t feel 100% comfortable trying these ice dam removal techniques, contact a professional roofer.

Pro-Tech Roofing offers professional ice dam removal as part of our roofing services in Tulsa and northeast Oklahoma.

How to Prevent Ice Dams

When it comes to ice dams, prevention is the best cure.

While there are things you can do during or after a snowstorm to help minimize the risk of ice dams from forming…

The best thing you can do is cool your attic space by addressing insulation and ventilation issues before winter comes.

Roof Rake Snow RemovalIf you are worried about ice dams, and a snowstorm is pending, you might consider using a roof rake to remove snow from the bottom 3-4 feet of your rooftop.

This can help prevent the formation of ice dams.

But roof rakes must be used with caution, as they can cause more damage than they prevent if not used properly.

For a long-term solution, talk to your roofer to get an evaluation of your attic insulation and roof ventilation systems.

A properly designed system can help you prevent the root cause of ice dam formation.

We hope this helps you better understand what to do next if you have ice dams on your roof.

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If you are in or around Tulsa, Oklahoma and need roofing services, give us a call at (918) 250-7663 or contact us here.

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