What Is Ice Damming?
When talking about roofing, the term “ice dam” refers to a situation where a ridge of ice forms along the eave line (draining side) of the roof. Ice damming usually occurs from a combination of snowfall and freezing temperatures. The accumulated moisture doesn’t have enough heat to melt and flow into the gutter, so it piles of the edge of the roof and becomes more solid over time. Once the ice dam forms, it prevents all other water from draining off the roof and causes it to get caught at the eave line. This then leads to the water being pushed underneath the shingles/tiles instead of draining into the gutter. In some situations the gutter can cause the ice dam if the gutter is improperly sloped, and water sits and freezes inside of it. After this water starts making its way under the roofing material it eventually finds its way into the home. Ice dams are one of the biggest calls for roof leaks in the Wintertime. There are a few ways to prevent this from happening to your home.
First, make sure your gutters and clear of debris and sloping properly to the nearest downspout. A functioning gutter system will make or break the functionality of the roof system during the cold season. In line with having a functioning gutter system is the need for drip edge. Drip edge is a metal flashing installed underneath the shingles that protects the fascia board and roof decking. With drip edge installed and the gutter up underneath, there is no exposed wood which means your roof is protected.
Next, it is always a good idea to have ice and water shield installed at your eave lines if you live in an area susceptible to ice damming. Ice and water shield is a fully adhered underlayment designed to withstand high winds and prevent the buildup of ice. Other types of underlayment that are fastened to the roof sheathing do not offer this extra protection.
Finally, in some higher elevation areas such as Black Forest, Monument, etc. where it tends to get colder and homes see less sunlight due to tree cover, it is a good idea to look into a product we call heat tape. Heat tape is an electrical wire that stays at a constant temperature above freezing and promotes ice melt. This product can run along gutters, up and down downspouts, or even be installed along the roof in a zig-zagging pattern. With heat tape, it is always a good idea to have a professional electrician wire it properly so you know that it is fused and will be working the way it should for the next big freeze.
If you are struggling with an ice damming situation or want to avoid it all together, make sure to have a knowledgeable roofing company come and check to see if your roof system has these necessary components. Scheduling a springtime maintenance will save a lot of headache and put you and your home ahead of the curve.