Loveland Roofing: Article About Ice Dams
Ice dams at the overhang of a roof can be a real problem. The dams cause melted water flowing down the roof to back up under shingles where it then leaks into the attic. However, there are precautions that can be taken to prevent them. Since they work in the cold weather of Colorado where ice dams are a common hazard, Loveland roofing companies know all about ice dams and how to stop them from forming.
Ice dams occur when snow melts on the roof, flows downward and then freezes into ice on the gutters and eaves. The process starts when heat from the attic below causes the snow to melt. This happens especially when there is inadequate ventilation to the attic. The water trickles downwards until it reaches the overhang of the roof and no longer has heat from below. At this point, it freezes into ice.
Having enough insulation in the attic can prevent heat from escaping through the roof. It is critical that insulation be used between the floor joists of the attic. Extra insulation can be set on top of the joists. Even if the extra insulation is very thin, it will help slow the spread of heat.
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Another approach is to cool the temperature in the attic so that the bottom of the roof it is closer to the temperature outside and unable to melt the snow above. Slightly opening a window at either end of the attic in cold weather or installing an additional vent will cool the attic and help accomplish this.
Yet another strategy is to use electric heat cables along the overhang of the roof. The warmth they create prevents water from freezing into ice dams. The cables clip into shingles and can even go into gutters. The cables are safe and provide only enough heat to slowly melt snow and ice. They are fastened to the roof in a zigzag arrangement.
A simple approach to preventing ice dams is to fasten sheet metal along the overhang roofing. The slick surface of the metal causes water to slide off the roof before it freezes. This method is especially effective on steep roofs where trickling water builds up speed. The sheet metal does not cost much and is easily to install. This approach is often used in the New England countryside.
When roofing or reroofing is being done in cold weather, it is important to watch out for ice dams since they can cause problems before the underlayment and shingles are fastened. One solution is to use a rubber ice shield on the overhangs during this critical period. These shields are made from polyethylene and prevent water from leaking under shingles as they are fastened.