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Ice Dams Threaten Roofing

Unshielded roofs are prone to ice damage in severe winter weather. When a heavy load of snow accumulates on an inadequately insulated roof, heat from the interior of the building melts the snow, causing runoff. When the runoff reaches the roof overhang, it refreezes because it is no longer directly above the heated structure. The resulting ice dam along the edges of the house causes water to back up and drives it under the shingles where it causes damage.

An ice dam is dangerous to people passing below the overhang. Melted water beneath the snow is likely to precipitate a snow slide without warning, damaging whatever is beneath. Significant icicles can form on the roof overhang and fall on pets or children. Taking decisive steps to prevent ice dams from developing is critical to avoiding roof damage and related injuries. Many Marlton roofing professionals install shielding that keeps ice dams at bay. Homeowners can employ other preventative measures too.

Anyone who has had the experience of chopping away at an ice dam in frigid weather immediately recognizes the benefits of ice shielding products. These are roll products that take the place of roofing felt along the lower portion of roof slopes. They are typically made to adhere to the roof decking without the need for nails, eliminating the chance of water seepage through nail holes.

Roofers typically lay ice and water shielding from two feet within the perimeter of the heated space below the roof to the edge of the overhang. Because the product comes in a width of three feet, this usually means two or more rows of shielding along the perimeter of the roof.

Roofers also apply the shield material in roof valleys, around penetrating objects like chimneys, and around skylights. All of these are areas that are most at risk for ice buildup and roof damage.

Many building codes in areas that experience severe winter storms require water and ice shielding for roofs. Even where such shielding is not mandated by law, asking roofing contractors to install it makes good sense. Freak winter storms often take residents of milder climates by surprise, and having an ice shield already in place prevents unexpected damage. Manufactures offer a standard grade and a high-temperature grade of shielding that withstands extremely high summer temperatures while maintaining its effectiveness against ice and snow.

For homeowners who do not need a complete reroofing but want protection against ice damage, professional roofing companies may be able to retrofit the shielding by removing shingles, applying the material, and replacing the shingles on top. When considering the potential damage incurred by ice dams, such a retrofit is well worth the cost.

Another step that prevents ice dam formation is supplementing the home’s insulation. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an insulation value of R-38 is sufficient to prevent the passage of heat from the attic of a home to the exterior roofing surfaces. Upgrading to a higher insulation R-value can save average homeowners thousands of dollars in roofing repairs and lower their energy bills at the same time. Have a question regarding roofing, shingles or roof leaks? Please ask Fortified Roofing of Marlton NJ today!

Term & definition explained by Fortified Roofing, Marlton NJ:

Insulation R-value

The effectiveness of insulation is expressed in terms of R-value, a measurement of its thermal resistance. Insulation’s efficacy increases in proportion to its thickness. For example, a sheet of fiberglass insulation that is 4 inches thick insulates twice as well as a sheet 2 inches thick.

A Marlton roofing contractor answers a commonly asked question:

Once an ice dam has formed, how should I deal with it?

Using tools such as hatchets or shovels to break up ice accumulation could precipitate an avalanche of snow or could seriously damage the structure of the roof. A wiser course of action is to let the ice melt naturally and afterward have ice and water shielding or roof heaters installed.

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