Repairing Roof Damage from Ice Dams

how ice dams are formed

Many homeowners living in Denver look forward to wintertime, and it’s easy to see why. It’s the season where we all have an excuse to stay at home, take part in snowball fights, bonfires, and family get-togethers which can all be very alluring. 


But after months of freezing temperatures, snow, and ice, the cold weather may have done some damage to your home. If you live in an area that’s prone to cold winters, you must be familiar with the much-dreaded ice dam. But what exactly are they, and how do they come about? What sort of damage do they do to a house’s roofing? Additionally, how can you repair your roof after the damages happen, and how can you prevent the problem from recurring? 


This article takes a deeper look into the issue of ice dams and outlines how every homeowner should repair their roofing after damages from ice dams have occurred.


What Are Ice Dams and How They Are Formed


roof damage repair from ice dams


An ice dam is a thick ridge of ice and icicles that build up gradually along the edges of a roof. They are formed by a cycle of melting and freezing snow conditions across the winter. As snow falls on your roof, it accumulates and will eventually melt when it gets warmer and freezes over again when temperatures start to fall. Sometimes the snow melts as a result of direct heat from the sun. Other times, it is melted by the rising warm air from within the house.


When it gets colder, the snow re-freezes, forming a thick wall of ice that can be so big that it prevents melted snow water from draining through the gutters and downspouts as it should. When the water that has been pegged back also freezes, the dam can get even bigger and heavier, risking more severe roof damage.


Roof Damage You Should Expect from Ice Dams


roof damage caused by ice dams


Ice dams on your roof won’t always cause damage. If the weather conditions improve, the ice will eventually melt, and water will run off the roof. But a long cold spell will increase the size and weight of the ice dam, and this buildup can cause extensive roof damage. For starters, heavy ice build-up on your roof can cause it to cave in, which can cause even further damage if the roof was to give away completely. Such a situation will compel you to invest in a new roof, all of which can be costly.


As it prevents snowmelt from draining, the water will gather even more and possibly leak through the roofing. Water leakages from your roof are possibly the worst thing you could want during winter. Leaks can lead to the growth of mildew and mold, which can cause respiratory problems to the people occupying the house. For some people, the sight of icicles along the roof eaves may seem attractive, but the truth is they spell trouble. The icicles that develop to form an ice dam can fall off and possibly injure someone. The outcome may even be fatal. 


Roof Repair Strategy After Ice Dam Damage to Your Roof


roof repair strategy for ice dams

Stop the Leaks at Once


The first step that you need to take is to stop the leakage if you want to curb the damage inflicted on your ceiling or walls of your house. Take a box fan and aim it at the underside of the roof, where the water is visibly leaking in. The targeted cold air will make the water freeze in a matter of minutes, preventing it from spreading any further.


Get Rid Of Built-up Snow From Your Roof


As highlighted earlier, the weight of snow and ice dams combined might be too much for your roof. Your roofing might collapse if you don’t act fast. First, consider the slope of your roof before doing anything. A flat roof is more prone to collapse than a steeply pitched roof. While a sloped roof will disperse the weight of the snow, the snow will be more centralized on a flat roof. 


Factor in the density of the snow as well. Heavy, wet snow can weigh a lot more than powdery snow. Also, try to use a snow rake instead of a shovel. Shoveling is dangerous and labor-intensive, while with a rake, you’ll only need to reach as high as you can and drag the snow off. 


Try to De-Ice Your Roof


After clearing the snow off of your roof, you can start by knocking down the icicles. Make sure the area is clear to avoid falling icicles from hurting people below. If you can access your roof well enough, try and chip off the ice. This process is quite risky and can cause damage to your asphalt shingles if not done properly. If you’re unsure whether you can pull it off, reach out to a roofing contractor to handle it.


Feel free to make use of safe ice-melting products. When sprinkled on the ice, calcium chloride ice melting products will break down the ice, causing it to melt away. But don’t use sodium chloride as it can cause further roof damage or harm any plants that might be on the ground.  


Conduct a Roof Inspection


A roof inspection is an integral part of any roof repair process. You need to know exactly where the leaks are happening so that you can make the right repairs. To get the best results, hire a roofing contractor based in Denver to come and do an indoor and outdoor roof inspection.


Make sure you show the roofing contractor every point at which the ice is forming. This insight can help them determine points where flashing the water may be possible. Check your roof together with the roofing contractor and identify any damaged or missing shingles, sagging boards, and water stains. These are sure proof signs of roof damage. If you have any ice and water shield on the roof eaves, make sure you point that out. Remember to let them know if your house has a prior history of leaking and if any attempts at repairing the leak were made. After the inspection, the roofing professional should determine the exact trouble spots on the roof that need attention. 


Hot Edge Roof Ice Melt Can Help With Your Ice Dam Problem


The most effective way of preventing any damage from ice dams is to make sure the roof’s temperature is the same as the temperature of the eaves. You can achieve this by installing a HotEdge heating system, which uses various products to efficiently curb the development of ice dams and eventual roof damage. 

The best part is the system uses less heating cable to warm a bigger surface area. That means you’ll get highly positive results for a small investment. Give us a call at +1 (303) 578-4987, so we can provide you with a free quote. After all, prevention is better than cure.


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