Now that winter is upon us, we at Clarke Contractors Inc. are on the lookout for “ice dams” on the roofs and houses that we go out to inspect for repairs. You may be asking yourself what exactly is an “ice dam”? Ice dams are formed when the heat from the inside of a home escapes into the attic and warms the roof decking in the winter. This heat, along with the heat from the sun, can melt the snow on the roof. This melting snow then runs down to the eaves, where there is no attic heat, and refreezes. The continual thaw and refreeze process creates ice dams at the edges of the roof and into the gutters. The result is water backing up under the roof shingles or behind the fascia boards where it soaks through the roof decking or wall sheathing causing water damage to attics, ceilings and walls.
There are three ways to defend against ice dams: insulation, ventilation and water proofing shingle underlayment. Each of the above will work together to keep ice damming and the damage it creates in check.
Insulation keeps heat from escaping from your homes living space into your attic. Insulation levels are recommended by the geographic zone you may live in and are measured in R-values. R-value is the resistance to heat flow of a material. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power. If your home was built before 1980, chances are it needs more insulation or R-value to meet today’s standards.
Ventilation removes the heat from your attic and helps keep the roof deck evenly cool to help prevent snow from melting on the roof. It is important to have ventilation in the attic so any heat lost from the interior of the home is drawn up and out of the attic. A properly designed ventilation system will have both intake vents in the soffits or eaves at the lower portion of the attic, as well as exhaust ventilation, such as ridge vents or turtle vents, at the high portions of the attic.
Waterproofing shingle underlayment, or ice shield, is laid across the roof before roof shingles are installed. This ice shield will prevent leaks from dams that do form on the roof. With existing roofs, waterproofing shingle underlayment is only an option if you are removing the existing shingles and installing new ones.
Clarke Contractors Inc. is a fully insured and bonded contracting company, with the professional experience and knowledge to help insure that your home can be protected from ice damming. Whether you need upgraded attic insulation, adequate attic ventilation, the installation of water-proofing underlayment or a combination of all three, we at Clarke can be the contractor you turn to for a professional job well done.