Ice Dams - The Cause, Problem & Solution of Ice Dams

Leaky Roof Whistler

Have you ever wondered what causes all that ice build-up on your roof?

Are you aware of the cost both in terms of energy bills and long term damage?

While the ice in the photo is impressive, what is likely more impressive is the back up of ice and water behind it! Ever wonder how a roof can leak at -15 C? Or why in the spring your expensive metal roof looks like someone tried to use a can opener on it?

ICE, as you see shown in the photo is caused by heat loss through the roof.  The heat loss causes the snow to melt and then re-freeze as it hits the cold roof overhang. The colder it is the more melting snow and the greater the buildup of ice. This is referred to as an ice dam.

17.01.017 - Ice Damming

The ice, as it cycles through freezing and thawing, can do significant damage to your roof in areas that you can and can't see.

The most damaging aspect of ice dams is the damage to the waterproofing layers beneath your roof.

This can lead to mystery leaks inside the house. Some are visible and some may not show themselves for many years. Those hidden leaks can cause extensive unseen damage that becomes very costly to repair and could result in mold and mildew growth. Additionally, the heat loss through the roof can contribute to cold rooms and high heating bills.

The 2 biggest culprits leading to heat loss through a roof are:

#1 Air Leakage:Your conditioned indoor air leaking through gaps in the insulation system.

#2 Poor Insulation: Take note that even the best insulation systems will under-perform if the house is not air tight.

If you are interested to learn more about the benefits of air tight construction check out my previous blog on How to affordably lower your GHG emissions by building a better home.

As the weather transitions from cold and snowy to warm and rainy the risk of roof leaks intensifies as snow melt and rain starts to back up behind the ice dam. This is when the worst leaks appear!

While fixing the leaky roof may seem to be the 1st solution and solves the immediate leak problem, until you improve the insulation system the problem is likely to re-occur regardless of how good or expensive the roof fix might be.

But don't panic there are solutions!

The simplest solution is to build it right the 1st time. With the right design team and builder this is easily addressed and executed.

Depending on the roof design, existing homes can also be relatively easy to upgrade with the cost of the upgrades paying themselves back in a few years with the energy saved.

While we prefer to do it right the 1st time, we also can upgrade your existing insulation system to permanently eliminate the ice build-up, protect the roof and save you money on energy.

We are always available for a free consultation so give us a call.

Cheers,

Bob Deeks

 RDC Fine Homes

Posted: Tuesday, January 17, 2017