Snow melting from the roof is usually welcomed, but warm days and freezing nights bring the threat of an ice-related roof leak. The normal freeze/thaw/freeze cycle in Madison WI in midwinter causes homeowners headaches. No. 1 threat is from the formation of ice dams. Like the name implies, they are a build-up of ice near the edge of a roof. Water from melting snow pools on the edge and refreezes. Gutters get clogged with thick ice so they don’t drain when the next above freezing temperatures arrive. The process repeats with a string of warm days and cold night. The roof doesn’t drain and pressure from the ice forces runoff between the gutter and the roof. Eventually that water penetrates the house itself.
Ice dams left unattended damage shingles, roofing decks and siding. Left alone long enough damage moves to walls and ceilings of interior rooms. If you notice a water stain on the ceiling around a window, doorframe or fireplace chimney, ice-related pressure is a likely reason.
Older homes are particularly prone to ice dams and ice-related roof leaks. Snow buildup and ice clogs are possible anywhere along the edges of your roof. Even on cooler winter days snow melts from the roof because warm are escapes from the attic. In that case, attic insulation and ventilation is as much to blame as midwinter sunshine.
You sure don’t want to wait until there’s an ugly stain in the ceiling by a window to think about preventing ice-related roof damage. You can help yourself with a walk-around inspection of your house. Do you see icicles forming? Big ones? Icicles alone aren’t a tell-tale sign but they provide an early warning. If icicles are forming along the edge of the roof, water is not training into gutters.
An Action Plan For An Ice-related Roof Leak
Knowing there are serious threats to your roof is the first step in protecting your property. If you noticed ice building along gutters or in corners of roof-related building features – dormers, etc. – take action. Homeowners have two concerns: dealing with an existing ice dam immediately and taking steps to prevent ice dams in the future.
This hasn’t been a terrible Madison area winter but snow has piled up. As days get longer and the sun heats up a roof more, snow melt is a fact of life. If you notice snow has packed into a corner or icicles are getting hefty, consider taking these steps as soon as possible:
- Remove the ice dam – if you can without risking your safety, remove as much of the packed ice and snow as possible. NEVER use a sharp tool like an axe – no only do you risk serious misfortune your risk doing more damage to your roof than the ice. Work carefully so you don’t damage shingles or gutters.
- Clear out gutters – remove as much debris from gutters and downspouts as you can without damaging them.
- Consider deicer – if the ice buildup isn’t too thick you might consider using an ice melting product. NEVER use rock salt or anything with it in it. Only calcium chloride products are safe – they won’t damage paint, metal or shingles.
While considering how to deal with the dam, take a look at ways to keep snow from building up on the roof. A roof rake – scraped-type tool with a really long handle – does a good job on ranch Cape Cod or Craftsman style homes. You can get most snow of without a ladder.
SAFETY FIRST – Call A Roofing Contractor
Anytime you’re on a ladder you’re in danger. In winter the danger multiplies. Thousands of people are seriously injured or killed from falls off ladders each year. Do you want to take that kind of risk? If you spot a serious-looking ice dam on your roof, call the professionals at Sims Exteriors & Remodeling. We have a division of specialists devoted to roofing and roof-related concerns. Not only do we have all the right tools, we have the experience it takes to get the job done safely. And, we know how to deal with causes, not just the effect.
Your roof isn’t as simple as you think. It includes layers of protection for your home – working inside and outside. Among the most important elements in a roofing system are protective barriers against moisture. Pressure from ice and packed snow forces water beneath the barrier. Water has an easier time entering spaces made larger by expanding ice layers. Eventually water gets into the attic and takes the path of least resistance downward – showing up as a stain on your ceiling.
The best action to prevent ice-related roof damage is to keep warm are from leaking into the attic. Warm, humid air from inside your house moves upward so the best way to keep rooftop ice issues from cropping up is to protect air flow inside.
An attic inspection and evaluation is a major first step toward preventing ice dams in the years to come. Vapor barriers and ventilation systems work in concert to keep your interior environment safe.
Providing Ice-related Roof Leak Solutions
Finding the appropriate solution to ice-related roofing problems isn’t easy. There are roofers to replace shingles. There are contractors to improve ventilation. And there are insulation services to boost your home’s overall R-value. You’d really like to work with one professional team that can do it all, wouldn’t you?
As our name suggestions, Sims Exteriors & Remodeling checks all the boxes. We are absolutely “all of the above.” No company matches our experience serving the Madison area. Sims is a full-service roofing and remodeling contractor so we can deal with poor attic insulation and poor attic ventilation. In addition, our roofing specialists regularly address all aspects of the ice problem from new shingles and underlayment to structural and insulation concerns. Inside your home we’re ready to repair and replace damaged ceilings and walls. And we can take care of damaged siding, windows and doorways, as well.
Our suppliers provide industry-leading products backed by the best warranties in the business. On top of those high standards, we add our own warranty for workmanship.
You don’t want to wait until an ugly water mark shows up on the ceiling, but if it does you want someone who’ll take care of everything quickly and efficient, don’t you?
As soon as you see ice building up on the roof or in the gutters, take action. Avoid serious, long-term consequences – email or call at 608-825-4500. Sims Exteriors & Remodeling provides short- and long-term solutions for an ice-related roof leak anywhere in the Madison WI area.