Ice Damming on Roofs

March 02, 2020

Ice dams form when water from melting snow freezes into ice at the edge of your roofline. Without proper roof snow removal, icicles that develop may grow large enough to prevent water from warm air and melting snow to properly drain off your roof causing ice damming. When meltwater is unable to flow from the roof, it may back up underneath roof shingles, cause roof leaks, and make its way into your home or property. Inside, you may see peeling paint on your drywall, warped floors, stained and sagging ceilings, and have soggy insulation in the attic, which can invite mold and mildew.

How Does Ice Damming Form?

The following explains the process leading to the formation of ice dams:

  • Heat warms the roof except at the eaves
  • Snow melts but then freezes on the cold eaves
  • Ice accumulates along the eaves, forming an ice dam
  • Melting water backs up behind it, flows under the shingles, and into the house causing water damage

What should you avoid?

  • Do not chop at ice dams with a hammer, chisel, or shovel. It is not only bad for your roofing but also can be dangerous for you.

How to Prevent Ice Dams?

Preventing ice dams may sound simple – keep your entire roof the same temperature as the eaves (edge of the roof). You can prevent ice dams by increasing ventilation, adding insulation, and sealing every possible air leak that could warm the underside of your roof.

Ice dams can form when water from melting snow freezes into ice at the edge of your roofline. Without proper roof snow removal, the ice that develops may grow large enough to prevent water from melting snow to properly drain off your roof causing ice damming. When water is unable to flow from the roof, it may back up underneath roof shingles and make its way into your home or property. Inside, you may see peeling paint, warped floors, stained and sagging ceilings, and have soggy insulation in the attic, which can invite mold and mildew.

What can you do?

Permanently getting rid of ice dams for good may sound simple – keep your entire roof the same temperature as the eaves. You can achieve this by increasing ventilation, adding insulation, and sealing every possible air leak that could warm the underside of your roof.

The following are a few relatively easy things you can do:

  • Ventilate your eaves and ridge; a ridge vent paired with continuous roof vents and soffit vents circulates cold air under the entire roof for proper attic ventilation.
  • Add attic insulation to avoid heat loss and keep heat where it belongs.
  • Attach clips and heating cables along your roof’s edge in a zigzag pattern to prevent ice dams, which equalizes your roof’s temperature by heating it from the outside instead of blowing in cold air from the inside. It is important to install these heating cables inside your downspouts too.

If you need to replace your roof in the near-term, you might consider an ice and water barrier to prevent ice buildup installed on the roof deck (or sheathing) along the roof edges (eaves), often called “ice & water shield.” It is a thin, rubberized asphalt membrane installed below the roof shingles, and typically only along the eaves and in the valleys. An ice and water barrier can protect your home from water leaks caused by ice dams and wind-driven rain. Some Colorado cities and counties require it while many others strongly recommend it.

When code required, building codes require roofers to install ice & water shield beginning at the edge of the overhang and ending at least 2-feet inside the nearest interior wall. Because most ice & water shield is manufactured in rolls 3 feet wide, one roll may or may not be sufficient. Many roofs often have a 6-foot swath of ice & water shield along their overhangs. If you are replacing your roof through an insurance claim, this should be covered, pending the coverage you selected. If not, this is a required additional cost to replace your roof to meet code.

A quality roofer will also install ice & water shields in the valleys of your roof.

An ice and water barrier will not prevent ice dams. Its purpose is to reduce the chances of a leak if you get an ice dam. We recommend having an ice dam removed if it is large enough that you are concerned that the weight of the ice dam will damage your roof.

Why Metro City Roofing?

Metro City Roofing is a full service, licensed, and insured roofing company – and only do business in the State of Colorado. We are leaders in the roofing industry that specialize in hail damage roof replacement, restoration, and roof repairs, and strive to deliver hassle-free, outstanding customer service.

We are local, family-owned, and operated and live year-round in the same Colorado community as you, unlike many other roofing companies that temporarily relocate to storm locations.

Metro City Roofing is your hassle-free answer to professional roofing services – residential roof replacement, commercial roof replacement, restoration, and roof repair. We are hail damage and wind damage roofing experts and have perfected the insurance claim and roof restoration process. Our professional roofing services staff will represent you during all interactions with your insurance company, settling your hail or wind insurance claim directly, including possible code-related requirements, to ensure that you receive all funds owed to you.

We will complete your roof replacement or restoration promptly, using high-quality products, with expert installation and project management.

Our roof installation crews are certified, fully insured, and committed to delivering high-quality craftsmanship.

Metro City Roofing installs the highest-quality roofing materials and aims for your complete satisfaction at every stage of the roof replacement process. We approach every roofing project we manage like it is our own home.

Contact Metro City Roofing today to schedule your free roof inspection.