How to Deal with Ice Dams
It’s that time of year again…Furnaces are cranking. Fireplaces are working overtime. Snow is in the air. You guessed it: it’s Ice Dam Season. There's no more common place for an Ice Dam to form than a Chicago steep-slope roof in winter.
What Is an Ice Dam?
Ice dams form when snow melts from the upper portion of a steep-slope roof and then refreezes over the lower portion of the roof. This freeze/thaw cycle happens because the upper sections of the roof are typically warmer than the lower sections (more sun exposure, poor attic ventilation, etc.). What results is the formation of a section of ice that acts like a dam, causing melting snow to build-up underneath the primary roof covering. So where does this water build-up go? Well, it usually ends up as a nice brown water spot on your ceiling or wall.
Score: Chicago winter = 1 point.
Prevent Ice Dams with Ice Barriers
We live in a region where one day it’s -20°F and the next it is 45°F. This means that Chicago steep-slope roofs are prime real estate for Ice Dams. To prevent ice dams, the 2012 International Building Code (IC 2012) calls for an “ice barrier” on all asphalt shingle, metal shingle, mineral-surfaced roll roofing, slate and wood shake and shingle roof systems. The code explains it further by noting that this is required on roof systems that have a history of ice forming along the eaves.
The solution outlined in the IBC 2012 is the installation of an ice barrier, at least two layers thick, installed from the eaves to at least 24” inside a building’s exterior wall line. Or, in plain English, ice and water barrier products must be installed on all steep-slope roof applications.
Score: Chicago Roofers = 1 point
The Best Products Can Prevent Ice Damming Damage
There are several different products out there that accomplish this: Owens Corning has its WeatherLock® line; GAF has WeatherWatch®, StormGuard® and UnderRoof2™ as the company’s leak barrier options; Tamko has Moisture Guard Plus®; and others. Each of these products features a self-adhesive, modified asphalt material that acts as a self-sealing waterproof barrier for the most vulnerable areas of the roof. When installed correctly by a Licensed, Professional Roofer as part of a roof system on a properly vented roof, the negative effects of the Chicago freeze/thaw cycle should be minimized.
Score: Chicago Roofers = 2 points.
Protect The Two Areas Most Prone to Ice Damming
Most manufacturer’s suggestions for the installation of “ice barriers”: from the eaves, installing a minimum of at least 24” inside a building’s exterior wall line; and in the valleys, installing a minimum of 18” – in both directions – extending out from the center line. These are the two areas most prone to Ice Damming. This coverage is in excess of the requirements of the IBC 2012, but given how frustrating water penetration is for building owners and residents, it seems that this seemingly over-zealous application would be the best means to ensure the improbability of developing an Ice Dam on your roof.
Score: Chicago Roofers = 3 points.
Is Your Problem Simply Ventilation?
Avoid Catastrophe with Ice Dam Prevention for Your Roof
Thanks to the ice barrier products available on the market today, Ice Dams can become a thing of the past. So although we live in a region where Mother Nature is indecisive and where the cold can wreak havoc on everything in its path, Chicago Roofers have won this round. Ice Dam season is gone.
For a professional assessment of roof damage from an ice dam or to learn more about ice barriers and how to protect your roof, call us today at (855) 253-1070.