Ice Dams on the roof

As winter progresses many of us start to see a growing formation of ice on the edge of the roof and up the roof valleys (where two roof lines meet). The ice can become so tall that it blocks melting snow from dripping off the roof acting as a “dam” this ice dam will continue to grow until  warm weather occurs. Water being pooled behind the dam can then find its way through the shingles and into the attic or living space.

Thanks to new materials that building codes in cold climates require, roofers install an ice and water barrier before nailing the shingles down. The  barrier is required to extend 24 inches inside the exterior wall line, and in valleys. The barrier comes in a roll 36″ wide, it has one side that’s sticky that glues it to the wood sheathing. When the shingles are laid over the barrier and nailed, the barrier acts as a gasket around each nail.

Theoretically,  if an ice dam forms and does not exceed the height of the ice barrier you shouldn’t have any roof leaks. Often the ice dam continues its expansion up the roof and then leaks into the roof.

Should you remove the ice dams or wait for mother nature to do her magic? Here at Dovetail we like to ask a few questions when we receive calls about removing ice dams.

How long have you owned the home, does the ice dam form every year, has it ever caused leaks? If you’ve never had a leak and no changes have been made to the roof, then odds are in your favor that you’ll be okay leaving the ice on the roof. But, certain weather patterns can cause problems on roofs that have never leaked.

When was the roof installed, did the roofer install the ice and water barrier?

Do you have any heat cable installed on the roof or in the rain gutters. Is it working?

Are you seeing any drips coming through the soffits. Have you checked the attic to see if you have any water seeping in. Often, the insulation will get saturated before finding its way through the ceiling. Is water dripping over the frozen gutter system onto your sidewalk or steps?

Okay, you’ve decide that the ice dams need to go, what’s next? First thing is to get the snow off the roof where its covering the ice.

Is this a DIY project? If your building is one story you can purchase a snow rake and rake the snow off while standing on the ground.  Next comes the removal of ice, without specialized steamers the homeowner must resort to repeated applications of ice melt and chipping with a hammer.  You’ll eventually be able to cut some channels in the ice and begin to remove the ice. Some of drawbacks of this method are working from the roof on a slippery slope, punching a hole in the roof or gutter while chipping. And long times on a ladder and roof.

The best methods of ice removal  usually include the use of a high temperature low pressure steamer like the Arctic Steamer manfactured in the USA. Most companies will arrive at your home with needed equipment, shovel the roof and then begin the ice removal using the steamer. You will need to provide a water spigot to attach to their steamer. You should expect melted snow, ice and the converted steam to produce pools of water on the ground.

Cost to remove the ice dams varies from roof to roof, precise estimates of time are very difficult to predict. How much ice, how hard is the ice, access to the roof, current temperature, how much snow needs to be moved are just a few of the variables that will affect the required time and cost. Rarely will the process take less then two hours.

Due to so many variables, most reputable companies will not provide an estimate of time and will charge an hourly rate. You should expect to pay $350.00 to $400.00 dollars per hour for this service.

Dovetail does offer ICE DAM REMOVAL in Gallatin Valley, Montana and Park County, Montana.

For more information or to schedule ICE DAM REMOVAL call us 406-585-2979 or on weekends 406-539-5118







About Raingutterguy

Specializing in design, supply,installation and repairs to rain gutter systems. Seamless raingutter, half round gutter and water collection systems.
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