Ice Dams

Damn Ice or Ice Dams?

Winter in Dallas, Texas makes for some fun and interesting roofing challenges because we never know what to expect.

December 2013 we got hit with one of our worse ice storms, in January we hit temps in the 70’s, and February has brought us ice, snow and single digit wind chill temperatures. With all this fun my phone has been ringing off the hook with people saying their roof is leaking and need me to rush over and fix it, the problem is their roof doesn’t have a leak, it has an Ice Dam.

Lets start from the beginning, and I’ll explain what an “Ice Dam” is and what causes them.

What Is An Ice Dam?

Ice dams will form when ice and/or snow melts and refreeze at or above the eaves of your roof. The refreezing of the water at or above the eaves actually builds the dam and further melting causes water to back up under your shingles because the ice dam prevents the water from running off your roof. This will cause interior leaks and can cause water damage to your ceilings and walls.

Preventing Ice Dams

How can you prevent an ice dam?

Proper roof ventilation, attic insulation and roof drainage is the best way to prevent or help deter the dreaded ice dams.

You may be confused wondering what ventilation, insulation and drainage has to with ice, so allow me to explain how this works.

It may be below freezing outside, but we have our furnace kicking inside. As we know heat rises, so it will rise to the ceiling and escape into the attic where it will rise to the highest point of your roof. This will heat the underside (attic side) of the roof decking to a temperature above 32 degrees causing the ice and/or snow on your roof to melt. Since it is starting to melt from the highest point the water will run down hill, but when it goes past the exterior walls, where there isn’t any heat, it will start to freeze again.

With proper roof ventilation, attic insulation and roof drainage you have a chance to fight this problem and prevent interior damage.

Proper Ventilation, Attic Insulation and Roof Drainage

This is how having proper ventilation, attic insulation and roof drainage works.

  • A roof that is properly ventilated will allow the air to circulate through your attic keeping the underside (attic side) roof deck close to the same temperature as the outside roof temperature.
  • Proper attic insulation will prevent the heat from rising and heating the roof deck.
  • Keeping your gutters clear of leaves and other debris will allow the water to run off your roof and stay off your roof by not building up in your gutters.

Proper ventilation, attic insulation and roof drainage, isn’t just a winter thing your home will benefit from it all year round. That’s why it’s important to fix it right the first time.

Things You Shouldn’t Do

I know when the ice is melting, and you have water running down your walls you’re willing to try anything to get it to stop, even something STUPID.

  • DO NOT take a blow torch on your roof and try to melt the ice. I was called out on a very costly repair because the homeowner melted the ice off his roof with a blow torch he also melted the shingles and his vinyl siding.
  • DO NOT let a roofing company talk you into letting them chip the ice off your roof. That was another costly repair where the homeowner called the WRONG roofing company to look at his roof they said they would clear the ice off his roof and had some guys get up there with picks and shovels to break the ice off, and they destroyed the shingles and gutters in the process.
  • DO NOT use a hammer and chisel because you will mess up your shingles and/or gutters just like another customer did.

Remember “Stupid” solutions always cost more in the long run. Sometimes it’s best to follow this advice “Just don’t do something, stand there”.

A Quick Fix

A quick fix for anything is not recommended, but if you’re in a situation where you have to do something about an ice dam right away you can use calcium chloride or an ice melt product. Be careful when setting up your ladder, climbing on your roof and using these products. This can be dangerous under the best of weather conditions so be real careful.

There are also a few legitimate trustworthy companies that will do a great job removing the ice dams for you, although, you’ll have to use the ultimate power tool, your wallet.

Permanent Solutions?

Is there a permanent solution to this problem?

Yes, there are a few options that will solve this problem for good and you’ll never have to worry about an ice dam again

I’m not going to list the ways to fix this problem because each roof problem is different. Call me and I’ll evaluate your roof and discuss the best way to solve this problem.

Will My Insurance Company Cover This?

Insurance policies vary from state to state, check with your insurance agent/company to see if your policy covers the damage caused by an ice dam. If they do cover the needed repairs for the damage, you will also want to check to see what your deductible is for that damage. The cost of the repair may not go over your deductible in which case you’ll have to come out of pocket for the repairs.

Choose The Right Company and Fix It Right the First Time!

I know that several of you have fallen prey to the unscrupulous roof companies because you didn’t know anything about ice dams and you thought you had a leak. This time of year is hard on everyone, and these roof companies are just waiting for something to happen, so they can charge or rather over charge you for unnecessary roof repairs or maybe just roof maintenance. Now you know so you won’t be fooled again. Remember when you are dealing with roof companies like this its best that you don’t rush in, feel free to get a second opinion, call me I’ll shoot straight with you.

That’s why you always call a legitimate reputable company like Inside Out who will send out a real home improvement /roof specialist to evaluate your home and then you’ll know what the right solution for your home is.