Ice Damming Tips & Tricks

When temps drop below freezing, preventing pesky New England ice damming is crucial. If your roof is experiencing ice damming, you understand the pain points associated: interior wall and ceiling damage, stopped water flow in your gutters, pooling water and more. If this happens, here are some tips and tricks to lessen your risk of damage.

The root causes of ice damming are heat loss and temperature change at the leading edges of the roofline. Warm air rising from inside the home will melt any snow accumulation on higher levels of the roofline, allowing water to flow to the colder leading edge (overhangs). Typically, the space between the exterior wall to the gutter is open, allowing melted snow to re-freeze.

Over time, the freezing barrier builds (which may take several days), and the damming effect occurs. This prevents water from flowing to the drainage system on the leading edges, pooling water behind the dam. And because roofing shingles are engineered to shed water from top to bottom, the backward flow of the pooling water traps beneath the shingle, creating a leak that leads to walls and interior ceiling damage.

These ice and water barriers beneath shingles, which seal decking at the leading edges of the roofline, are a commercial and residential code requirement in the Northeast. However, taking immediate measures to remove snow accumulation following a storm will help prevent damage in two ways:

  1. Prevent accumulation from becoming a source of water flow by removing it entirely
    Create a free-flowing area at the leading edge for additional upper roofline accumulation to safely melt through the gutter system
  2. Additionally, overall heat efficiency changes can be made to the interior insulation and ventilation systems of the residence. However, please note: the addition of insulation should be balanced carefully with a proper ventilation method.

Other preventative measures include ongoing maintenance to the drainage system (keeping gutter systems free of debris and leaves) and professional installation of heating cables and ice barriers around areas prone to accumulation buildup.

Attempting to remove existing ice dams yourself can be dangerous. Not only is working on an icy surface high above ground risk, serious damage can occur to roofing materials and gutters by using axes or hammers or by melting ice chemically with salt or other melting granules. If you’re unable to remove snow accumulation prior to freezing, call City Roofing & Siding (the experts) at (860) 621-5656 for professional removal or more information.