Ice damming is a common problem homeowners face during winter, especially in those with metal roofs. The accumulation of ice on the roof’s edges can lead to water seepage, damage to the roof structure, and potential leaks inside the house. In this article, we will explore the causes and effects of ice damming, discuss preventive measures, and provide solutions for dealing with existing ice dams on metal roofs.
Understanding Ice Damming
Ice damming occurs when heat from the attic or upper floors melts the snow on the roof, refreezing at the colder roof edges or gutters. This results in the formation of ice dams, blocking the natural drainage of water from the roof.
Causes of Ice Damming
- Inadequate insulation: Insufficient insulation in the attic allows heat to escape, melting the snow and contributing to ice dam formation.
- Poor ventilation: Improper attic ventilation traps warm air, leading to higher roof temperatures and the melting of snow.
- Roof design: Certain roof designs, such as low-pitched roofs or those with valleys and dormers, are more prone to ice damming.
- External temperature fluctuations: Frequent temperature changes, alternating between freezing and thawing, can accelerate the formation of ice dams.
Effects of Ice Damming
- Roof damage: Ice dams can cause significant damage to the roof surface, shingles, and gutters as the weight of the ice increas-es.
- Water leaks: When melted snow cannot drain properly due to ice dams, it can seep into the roof and cause leaks inside the house.
- Structural damage: Prolonged ice damming can lead to structural issues, including damaged insulation, mold growth, and compromised roof integrity.
Metal Roof and Ice Damming
Although metal roofs are more resistant to ice damming than other roofing materials, are not completely immune to the problem. The smooth surface of metal roofs allows ice dams to form and persist. However, their inherent durability and ability to shed snow more easily make them less prone to long-term damage caused by ice dams.
How to Resolve Ice Damming on a Metal Roof?
🎯 Safety Precautions
Always wear appropriate safety equipment, such as a harness and non-slip footwear, when working on the roof.
🎯 Remove Snow
Utilize a roof rake or long-handled broom to safely clear off as much snow from your roof, which helps prevent further ice dam formation.
🎯 Create Channels
Clear a path for water to flow off your roof by creating channels through ice dams by melting them with calcium chloride ice melt products; avoid rock salt or sodium chloride products, which could potentially damage metal roofing materials.
🎯 Improve Insulation and Ventilation
Poor insulation and ventilation in an attic can contribute to ice damming, so ensure proper insulation is installed to reduce heat transfer between living spaces and attics. Also, make sure there’s adequate air circulation within your attic for maximum airflow to reduce heat build-up and ensure air circulation and avoid heat build-up.
🎯 Seal Air Leaks
Seal any attic leaks, such as gaps around chimneys, vents, or exhaust fans, to stop warm air from entering and melting snow off your roof. Doing this helps prevent warm air from entering and melting snow on its roof surface.
🎯 Install Ice and Water Shield
Consider applying an ice and water shield membrane along the roof’s eaves. This self-adhesive membrane provides an additional barrier against water infiltration. Start at the roof edge and extend the membrane at least 3 feet from the edge. Ensure the membrane is properly adhered to the roof surface to create a watertight seal. This step is especially important in areas with a high likelihood of ice damming.
🎯 Install Heat Cables
Heat cables, also known as heat tapes or roof de-icing cables, can be installed along the roof’s eaves and gutters to prevent ice dam formation. These cables emit heat and melt snow and ice, allowing water to flow freely and preventing dams from forming. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation and consider hiring a professional electrician if you’re uncomfortable working with electrical systems.
🎯 Consult a Professional
If the ice damming issue persists or you feel uncertain about handling it alone, consulting with a professional roofing contractor is strongly advised. They possess the necessary experience and know-how to assess the situation and offer appropriate solutions.
Always put safety first when working on a roof, so if you feel uneasy or uncertain in undertaking these steps, seek professional assistance immediately.
- Proper Insulation: Ensure adequate insulation in the attic to minimize heat transfer from the living spaces below, reducing the risk of snow melting and ice dam formation.
- Attic Ventilation: Maintain proper attic ventilation to allow for the escape of warm air and regulate the roof’s temperature.
- Snow Removal: Regularly remove snow from the roof using safe techniques, such as roof rakes or a telescoping pole, to prevent the buildup of snow and the subsequent formation of ice dams.
Ice damming on a metal roof can pose significant challenges for homeowners. By understanding the causes and effects of ice dams, implementing preventive measures, and taking prompt action to safely remove existing ones, you can mitigate the risks and protect your home from potential damage.