Posts Tagged ‘ice dam prevention’

Attic Condensation & Ice Dam Leaks

February 10, 2011

Preventing Ice Dam Leaks

Attic condensation and ice damming are related. Both can be caused by warm, moist air leaving the house and entering the attic. Attics will be in good shape if there are no holes, air leaks, or bypasses from the house to the attic and there is sufficient insulation to keep house heat from escaping. If you can ensure good air sealing and insulation, the attic will remain cool and dry, as if it were outside. For example, it is rare to see moisture problems or ice damming on the roof of a detached garage or unheated barn.

Formation Of An Ice Dam

Where to look for leaks

  • around plumbing stacks or plumbing walls
  • chimneys through the attic
  • any light fixtures from the ceiling below
  • electric wiring
  • ducting for fans or heating systems
  • perimeter walls
  • partition walls
  • party walls
  • above pocket doors
  • above lowered ceilings
  • where the side of a cathedral ceiling meets an open attic
  • split level discontinuities
  • where additions meet an older section of the house
  • above rounded corners or staircases
  • balloon frame walls

Prevent Ice Dams With Ventilation

Attic Venting

If you have properly sealed the attic you should not need more attic ventilation. Attic ventilation is overrated. In winter, the cold outside air cannot hold much humidity or carry moisture away from the attic. In summer, attic temperatures are more affected by the sun and shingle color than by the amount of ventilation.

Ice Damming

Ice dams are the large mass of ice that collects on the lower edge of the roof or in the gutters. As more melting snow (or rain) runs down the roof, it meets this mass of ice and backs up, sometimes under the shingles and into the attic or the house.

Ice damming usually occurs with a significant depth of snow on the roof. If the attic temperature is above freezing, it warms the roof sheathing which melts the snow lying on the shingles. This water runs down the roof until it meets the roof overhang, which is not warmed by the attic and will be at the temperature of the surrounding air. If the air and the overhang are below freezing, then the water will freeze on the roof surface and start the ice dam.

The balance between removing ice and damaging the roof

Thick ice is hard to remove. You must decide if trying to remove it will cause more damage than leaving it on the roof. Tools, such as hammers, shovels, scrapers, chain saws, and devices such as shoes with ice spikes can damage roofing materials or the structure below. Chemical de-icers can discolor shingles, break down membranes and corrode flashings and drains. De-icers can also damage plants on the ground.

Has your roof been damaged by a winter storm and you’re now looking for a Minnesota roofing contractor to fix it?

If damage has occurred and ice must be removed, hiring professionals that use steamers is strongly recommended.

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Was Your Roof Damaged From Ice Damming This Winter?

February 3, 2011

Roof Damage from Ice Dams this Winter

Winter Roof Damage

Ice dams in the Minneapolis – St. Paul area of Minnesota can be nightmares, potentially costing you thousands.

Minnesota winters are hard on our homes. Ice dams are created by a number of factors, most importantly the damage they cause can be significant; water leaks, ice buildup, shingle damage, gutter damage and even structural damage or failure.

The severe weather this winter is not only a headache for commuters but it can also be a huge hassle and hazard for Minnesota homeowners. If you have long icicles hanging from your gutters, that’s a warning sign of possible ice dams on your roof which could lead to major damage to your home.

If you see a buildup of ice and an accumulation of icicles, you need to have a roofing contractor or gutter cleaning company come out and check it out. If left unattended, it can be quite expensive to fix.

  1. Call a professional: Removing an ice dam can be quite dangerous. A good place to start is with a reputable roofing contractor. Check and get estimates and references from contractors in your area. Gutter cleaning companies may also offer this service.
  2. Remove snow from the roof: If you’re tackling the job yourself, there is a special tool for removing snow called a “roof rake”. Carefully pull it down the slope of the roofline. Never pull snow across the roof. You could damage the shingles.
  3. Chip away at the ice: For immediate action, you can chip away through the ice dam so the water can flow through. Stop when you get close to the roofing.
  4. Properly ventilate and insulate the attic: The main cause of ice dams is an overly warm attic.
  5. Never walk on a snow-covered roof: Make sure you work from a ladder to access/fix the damage.
  6. Do not install mechanical equipment or water heaters in attics: These are a fire hazard. Stick to insulation to help keep heat in your home.
  7. Do not use salt or calcium chloride to melt snow off the roof: These chemicals are very corrosive. The runoff of these chemicals can also damage grass and plants.

MN Snow and Ice Dam Removal

Removing Ice on roof with steam in Minneapolis, MN

Has your roof been damaged by a winter storm and you’re now looking for a Minnesota roofing contractor to fix it?

Our ice dam removal services start with safely and carefully removing the snow from your roof. Once the snow is removed from the ice dam areas we will then melt the ice dams using commercial grade heavy duty steamers.

 

Steam Method To Remove Ice Dams

February 2, 2011

Safely Remove Ice Dams With Steam In Minnesota

Ice dams are created by a number of different factors, such as snow accumulations and heat loss. But, most importantly are the damage they can cause and the significant damages that can incur do to; Water leaks from ice buildup, shingle damage from ice forming under the shingles. Gutter and Soffit damage from the weight and pressure from ice as it forms at the eaves, and structural damage as water intrusion can rot the untreated lumber used in the construction of your home. Not to mention the rot of your sheet rock as water leaks in and on your ceilings and walls.

Ice dams may seem harmless at first, but they are known to cause thousands of dollars in repair due to roof leaks, structural damages and interior repairs to your home. Results of ice dams can create dangerous mold growth, which can cause or aggravate allergies, asthma and other respiratory diseases.  Fighting ice dams can be costly and, you also need to know how to approach the problem to make your efforts more efficient to permanently eliminate ice dams.

If damage has occurred and ice must be removed, hiring professionals that use steamers is strongly recommended.  Using a “Steam Method” of ice removal, as opposed to other methods which may include a hammer and chisel, will safely remove ice dams without damaging the integrity of your shingles.

Ice Dams Have Been A Big Problem For Minnesota Homeowners

February 1, 2011

Steam Removal of Ice Dams | Ice Dam Removal

Ice Dam Defense

Ice damming has been a big problem here in Minnesota this year. Record snowfall amounts in December, preceded and interspersed by bouts of sleety precipitation, produced the perfect storm for ice dams to flourish.

Although sometimes thought of as a problem with roofing or attic ventilation, ice dams are actually caused by the presence of warm air in the attic, combined with snow on the roof and the right weather conditions. Ice dams occur when heat leaks into the attic and melts the underside of the snow on the roof. The melted snow then flows down the roof surface until it reaches a cold spot (such as the eaves or soffit) where it forms a frozen dam, behind which more snowmelt and ice pile up.

The ice build-up can back up under the shingles, damaging them and allowing water to leak ICE DAM to the ceilings and walls below.

The source of ice dams: attic air leaks

Warm air leaking from the house into the attic is the primary cause of ice dams. Anywhere there is a penetration into the attic space (around wires, plumbing vents, light fixtures, chimneys, and knee walls) there is the potential for air leaks. Even homes that are only a few years old may not be properly sealed. To avoid these types of problems and eliminate most ice dams, attic air leaks must be sealed with caulking or expanding spray foam.

Solutions

  • Sealing attic air leaks saves energy and is key to preventing ice dams.
  • An energy audit with an infrared scan can pinpoint trouble spots.
  • If damage has occurred and ice must be removed, hiring professionals that use steamers is strongly recommended.

Ice Dam Defense
There are 3 ways to defend against the damage ice dams cause.  All 3 work together.

  • Insulation/ Insulation keeps heat from escaping from your home’s living space into your attic.
  • Ventilation/ Ventilation removes the heat and keeps the roof deck evenly cool to help prevent snow from melting on the roof.
  • Water-proofing/Water-proofing is laid across the roof before shingles are applied and protects against dams that form on the roof.

With existing roofs, waterproofing underlayment is only an option if you remove the existing shingles or are building a new addition.  Either way, increasing the insulation R-value in the attic is always possible, and ventilation can usually be added to your attic quite easily.

An energy efficient roof minimizes problems with ice dams.  A Minnesota roofing contractor can do an in-home evaluation to diagnose the performance of your home and together decide what the best course of action is for your situation.

Ice Dams Still Causing Problems For Minnesota Homeowners

January 27, 2011

Ice Dam Removal | Steam Removal of Ice Dams

Ice damming is a big problem here in Minnesota this year. Record snowfall amounts in December, preceded and interspersed by bouts of sleety precipitation, produced the perfect storm for ice dams to flourish.

“There’s a lot of leaks out there,” say Minnesota roofing contractors, who have been taking calls for help. After a series of wimpy winters, this one and last year’s have prompted ice dams to return with a vengeance. As a result, Minnesota homes are being affected much earlier than usual this year.

Ice dams form when snow accumulates on a roof that’s too warm, then melts and drains down to refreeze at the colder overhangs of eaves. The water that collects behind the frozen dams may seep through the roof and down into a structure. Poorly insulated and inadequately vented attics are the biggest contributors to ice buildups, which can be mitigated by clearing snow from roofs.

Long-handled roof rakes can be employed to pull off the first few feet of snow behind eaves, but locally they’ve become a scarcity. Menards ran out over the weekend, and Home Depot’s supply was depleted for the third time this winter.

Complete removal of roof snow is best, and is best if the work is done by a contractor using a steam unit to clear heavy snow and ice buildups. This method melts the ice dam in a manner that will not damage your roof.

Ice shield membranes, routinely installed along roof edges before new shingles are installed, make a big preventative difference when it comes to water issues produced by ice dam formations.

Prior to five or six years ago building codes called for membranes to extend three feet up from an exterior wall. Under the new code, 6-foot rows of membranes are now standard, and some homeowners request even more. Some people have wanted a membrane on the entire roof.

Contractors say that an ounce-of-prevention is worth-a-pound-of-cure. Thousands of homeowners in the community who had new roofs installed following severe summer storms may have been lulled into a false sense of security. Ice shield membranes guard against water penetration but can’t prevent ice dams that, if left untended, can extend upward beyond the shields.

According to the University of Minnesota Extension Service, problems occur when a series of conditions coincide:

A roof’s upper surface must average above 32 degrees for sustained periods while the lower surfaces average below freezing temperatures. The dams form in the areas that are below freezing, and water collects behind them in areas that are not.

In addition to removing roof snow, ice dam prevention involves controlling heat loss from the house to the attic. This can be achieved by enhancing ceiling insulation that keeps heat out of the attic, thereby preventing the roof from heating up, and by keeping roof vents free of snow.

And as a related precaution, snow should be cleared away from outside gas meters to guard against blockage of regulator vents that could cause gas leaks inside the home.

If you are one of the many Minnesota homeowners with roof damage from ice dams, contact a Minnesota roofing contractor today!