April 08, 2020
Ice dams and snow removal
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. They prevent 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 to Protect Your Roof from Ice Damming?
Ice dams can't form without snow. If you are able to remove fresh snow before ice dams to form, you are proactively reducing the risk of ice damming and far more likely to prevent your roof from leakages.
To prevent snow accumulation and ice dams to form, we recommend clearing your roof after every 15 cm of snow (about half a foot).
In addition to snow removals, homeowners may consider having an attic inspection done. A properly insulated and vented attic space can reduce the risk of ice damming.
- 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 from escaping the living space to attic.
Depending on the inspection result, your roofing contractor may 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 may recommend having a minimum ventilation requirement of 1/150 by 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.
Thanks for reading!