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Everything You Need To Know About Ice Damming

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Ice Damming

February 26, 2017

Everything You Need To Know About Ice Damming

During Edmonton’s erratic winter weather, the snow on your roof can melt and refreeze, result in ice dams forming along the eaves and valleys. Ice dams are a buildup of ice at the edge of a roof; this prevents water from draining and can potentially cause water damage to the interior walls. What starts as small icicles can become monstrous ice dams if they are not properly inspected and removed.  

How Do Ice Dams Form?

Ice dams form in colder weather when heat in a home escapes from the ceiling and remains trapped in the attic space. The heat slowly melts the snow on your roof while the cold winter air refreezes the water; layers of ice begin to form over time, creating an ice dam.

How to Protect Your Roof from Ice Damming?

Professional roofing contractors in Edmonton should provide you the following services:

  • Attic and rooftop inspection: professional roofing contractors will inspect the exterior of your home, your attic space, ventilation system, and insulation. They will locate the cause of the issue and prevent ice damming from occurring in the future.
  • Explain the cause of ice dams and provide a solution: The attic space should be dry and cool all year, and the temperature should be the same as the outdoor temperature. In order to fix ice damming, three conditions must be met:
    • The attic must be properly vented.
    • The ceiling insulation must be sufficient.
    • The attic space must be sealed off from the living space. This is to prevent any heated air and moisture escaping from the living space to attic.

Depending on the inspection result, your roofing contractor can recommend fixing ventilation, insulation, or both.

Poor ventilation is the most common cause of ice buildup on roofs, followed by inadequate ceiling insulation. In some cases, the heat loss is from the un-insulated pipe, un-sealed fixture or non-venting bathroom fan.

Low-sloped roofs and cathedral ceilings have very little or no attic space, and extra steps must be taken in order to prevent ice dams. For example, your roofing contractor should recommend having a minimum ventilation requirement of 1/150 (1 square foot of vent opening for every 150 square feet of ceiling area) and recommend installing a continuous ventilation system (e.g. ridge venting). For ceiling insulation, it needs to have an air barrier of 2” between the roof deck and the insulation.

A little knowledge goes a long way. In most cases, a small buildup of ice will not be detrimental to your home. By being aware of larger buildups of ice, you can be proactive in protecting your home from potential water damage. Contact a local roofing professional to inspect your roof today.