Ice dams are ridges of ice that form when the heat from the inside of a home escapes into the roof and warms the roof decking under certain wintertime conditions. This heat, along with the heat from the sun, can melt the underside of the layer of snow on the roof. In colder temperatures, this will freeze preventing the melting snow from draining of the roof. The trapped water will trickle down towards the eaves between the layer of snow and the shingles. This part of the roof stays cold because it extends beyond the side of the house, causing the water to refreeze. This continual thaw and freeze process is what creates an ice dam. The ice dam forces the water back up under shingles and behind fascia. Ultimately, it can soak through the roof deck and cause damage to attics, ceilings and walls by dripping into the insulation and ruining sheet rock and paint. If the ice dam breaks free, it can pull shingles and gutters off also, damaging anything it falls on. If the area under the shingle stays wet, it can form mildew and start to rot. The flatter the pitch of the roof, the easier it is for an ice dam to get a grip, because gutters at the eves are more likely to trap snow and ice.
THE EFFECTS OF ICE DAMS Moisture entering the home from ice dams can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which in turn can trigger allergies, asthma and other respiratory problems. When a homeowner sees signs of water damage and mold they should immediately dry out portions of the house that are wet and damp with fans. They should also take immediate action to get rid of the water source, clean the home environment and maintain air quality. If it seems like there may be unseen water damage under flooring or in attics or walls, it is best to contact professionals who have large fans to speed up the drying process.
HOW TO PREVENT AN ICE DAM? Proper insulation and ventilation help prevent ice dams. Homes can lose up to 40% of their heat through an attic that does not have proper insulation. Newer homes have high standards of insulation, but older homes build before the 90’s usually need more insulation. Ventilation keeps rising heat and moisture in the air moving out of the attic, preventing rot and ice dams. You can also replace your shingle roof with standing seam or other metal roof. Or you can replace the bottom three feet or so of your shingle roof with a wide metal drip edge. Regardless, you should make sure a water-repellent membrane is installed under any new roofing. NOTE: If your roof is not very steep, an ice dam can still form on metal roofing and drip edges.
Despite all your efforts, there are time Mother Nature will prevail. If that happens DO NOT do any of the following:
Routinely remove snow from the roof. It will probably lead to shingle damage.
Chip away the ice of the ice damage. It will likely damage your shingle.
Use salt or calcium chloride to melt the snow on the roof. These chemicals are very corrosive and can shorten the life of metal gutters, downspouts and flashings. The runoff can also damage nearby grass and plants.
Forget to clean your gutters twice a year. Keeping the gutters clean will not stop an ice dam from forming, but they can keep water from overflowing and spilling rainwater next to the house.
If ice dams have already formed on your roof, our roofing professionals can properly remove the ice dam for you. Don’t try to get on the roof and remove it yourself – roofing gets brittle during colder months and can collapse under heavy weight. Not only can we remove the ice dam, but we can properly evaluate the cause of the ice dam and recommend permanent solutions. As a local business, we understand the weather in Bend and the rest of Central Oregon. Our attention to detail and quality materials will ensure that your roof is properly insulated and ventilated to withstand our snow, ice and hail storms without forming an ice bank. In the middle of winter when roads are treacherous and the problem is immediate, is not the best time to make sure your home is protected. Summer is the best time to maintain your home. Have an honest, experienced roofer perform a maintenance visit. They will examine your roof and attic to make sure that everything is properly installed and that your roof will be weather proof and water proof this upcoming winter.