Prevent Ice Dam Damage – Take Action Right Now

Instead of damning ice, take steps to prevent damage from a mid-winter ice dam. This winter promises to be no different than any other in Madison WI. There will be several snow storms, mid-season thaws and extended cold snaps. All promote a major threat to your home’s roof as well as interior walls and ceilings. Snow melting and refreezing on the roof creates a thick layer of ice. It blocks proper runoff, creating a dam made of ice.

All these elements play a role in keeping your Madison area home safe and comfortable all year around.

It makes sense to take preventive action before water is leaking into your home, doesn’t it? There are steps you can take before snow piles up on the roof. A walk-around to visually inspect the roof lines is the first step. In addition, think back to last winter or the year before. Where did snow pile up? Did you have a layer of ice anywhere? Maybe a collection of large icicles that didn’t melt for a long time?

When dealing with potential roof ice you have two action plans:  1. Let nature take care of it’  2. Remove snow and ice as efficiently as possible. Some actions target long-term solutions while others aim at removing an immediate threat.

When time and weather permits, long-term solutions include increasing attic insulation, improving attic ventilation and installing water-proof shingle underlayment like CertainTeed’s Winterguard®.  Proper insulation and ventilation removes heat to keep the roof deck evenly cool so snow doesn’t melt fast in one area and not in another.

Immediate Ice Dam Action

When there’s snow in the forecast it’s too late to start renovating your roof or attic. You have to come up with a plan to combat ice right now. Short-term solutions include:

  • Snow removal – the easiest way to prevent ice building in seams and along the gutters is to get the snow off your roof as soon as possible. Don’t let it melt and refreeze. Getting deepening snow off flat parts or where it can drift is really important. Removing snow is easier said than done. Climbing on the roof with a shovel isn’t a comfortable thought, is it? If you’ve had a lot of snow pile up in the past, invest in a roof rake. It’s basically a flat shovel on the end of a long pole. The rake allows you to pull snow off the roof from the ground. Obviously, these tools work best on one-story buildings but some extend enough to get the edges of a two-story home.
  • Apply heat – there are electric heating cables that can be installed in problem areas on the roof. They work to continually melt snow and keep runoff flowing so ice doesn’t dam up. Installing cables means accessing the roof so there are all the risks associated with using a ladder plus complications of working in the cold if you try to do it in late fall.

When It Is Too Late To Prevent A Dam

So, what if it’s too late, the ice is already there? Again, you can let nature take its course or take action on your own. Among your ice removal options are:

Above this row of icicles a threat to your roof and home’s interior is taking shape.
  • Chip it away – you can use a hammer or other tool to chip the ice away. Keep in mind, this is an excellent way to damage your roof in the process. It also means climbing a cold, slippery ladder. Choose your tool with care. Anything with sharp edges – like a hatchet – is dangerous to the roof and you. Consider making channels in the ice is the dam is large and thick. Water will drain through these gaps. It’s easier than removing the whole thing.
  • Warm it up – use a spray bottle of warm water to melt the ice in specific problem areas. This isn’t a good solution for an established, thick ice buildup but it works in areas where you spot a problem developing.
  • Use chemistry – chemical ice melting products will removed ice building up on the roof as they do on sidewalks. But beware! Many of the best ice melts are not ideal for roofing materials. The chemicals can stain and permanently discolor shingles. The runoff can also damage landscape plants. You don’t want to solve one problem and unknowingly cause an even more serious one, right? Generally, roofing experts suggest calcium chloride-based products if you want to use chemicals. Always avoid sodium chloride-based products or rock salt. They are so corrosive they’re almost guaranteed to damage the roof.

Plan To Eliminate The Ice Dam Threat

The layer of ice forming around the eaves on your roof causes water to pool behind it. The water is a threat to leak into your home damaging walls, ceilings, insulation and basic structures. The sooner you detect even a hint of an ice dam, consult the roofing professionals at Sims Exteriors & Remodeling. Get an expert’s recommendation on the best action for both long- and short-term solutions.

A roof rake is worth the effort when it helps protect your home from serious water damage.

Unlike many roofing companies that come and go with the seasons, Sims has specialized in high-tech roofing solutions in the Madison area for decades. No company matches its experience. And few have the skilled technicians to take on the critical elements that allow ice to build up in the first place: poor attic insulation and poor attic ventilation. As part of a major remodeling organization, the roofing specialists regularly address all aspects of the ice problem from new shingles and underlayment to structural and insulation concerns inside the attic. They are ready to repair and replace damaged ceilings and walls – inside and outside – as well.

Beyond the skill and experience of its staff, Sims’s suppliers provide industry-leading products backed by the best warranties in the business. Topping those exceptional warranties, our organization stands behind its workmanship as well. You can count on the professional results you expect.

Even if you’ve already seen a serious ice build-up this winter, take action to reduce the consequences. Email or give us a call at 608-825-4500 to set the wheels in motion.  Sims Exteriors & Remodeling is ready to address both short- and long-term ice dam concerns anywhere in the Madison WI area.