We’re glad you asked. Quite simply put, they are dams of ice that form on your roof. Like any other dam – Hoover or beaver for example – they create a situation where water becomes trapped. Typically this water would be used for benefit, but in the case of ice dams, the only benefit is to the outfit you hire to repair the damage they cause. As a homeowner in Winnipeg, you are faced with two options: relocate to California, in which case your commute back up to work would be exhausting, or find a good way to minimize ice dam formation on your roof and live happily ever after.
How can I minimize my ice dam formation?
Before we get into some solutions for you to consider, we’ll first ask you to read this brief overview about how ice dams occur. Two of the main factors that lead to ice dam formation are: weather conditions through the winter months (thaw and freeze) and inadequate attic insulation. Until we perfect Winnipeg’s climate control apparatus, we’ll focus primarily on the second factor. During the winter months, deficiencies in your attic insulation provide the perfect conditions for escaping heat. As it escapes, heat will encounter snow that has built up on the roof and will melt some of this snow on the way out. The problem escalates from there as this melted snow trickles down to the cold eaves edge of the roof where it re-freezes and an ice dam has begun. The ice dam continues to grow over the winter as the process repeats itself, eventually trapping water behind it. Shingles are designed to shed rainwater but are vulnerable against standing water, so once the water has found the path of least resistance between your shingles, it just keeps on coming.
Before we get into how to prevent ice damming, we’ll address the immediate problem of your existing ice dams. This is where our steam powered ice dam removal equipment comes in. High temperature steam is undisputed as the most effective way to remove ice dams without risking damage to your roof and is the only method we will use on your home. Prior to clearing the ice dams, our energetic team first clears the entire roof of snow to make sure that ice will not continue to form and to allow our self-dubbed “Beaming Steam Team” easy access to the ice.
So now that the ice dams are out of the picture, how can I prevent them from returning in the future?
Bringing your insulation up to code will eliminate the bulk of the problem by stopping the initial heat loss, but it’s usually not enough to stop there. Sufficient attic ventilation will also need to be attained for your best defence against ice dam formation. This can include opening up your soffits to attain airflow and additional roof venting to further stimulate circulation. Our dedicated professional crews are able to take care of each of these upgrades for you and we would be happy to assess your specific situation to see how we are able to help.
A special point needs to be made if your home has a half storey upstairs with sloped ceiling sections (also known as vaulted or cathedral ceilings). Those sloped ceiling areas are particularly vulnerable to escaping heat because there is hardly any space for insulation. If the insulation is not upgraded in the slopes, or if the snow is not quickly removed from the roof, ice damming will almost certainly be part of your home’s profile at some point each winter. The use of polyurethane spray foam insulation is one of the best methods for treating these areas and we have a spray foam department that offers cutting edge technologies.
Once I’ve made these upgrades, will I ever see ice dams again?
Once changes have been made, you will notice a significant improvement in performance. However, ice dams are not something that can be guaranteed preventable over the long term. This is one of many reasons why shingles should always be installed with proper ice and water shield underlays as the last line of defence against the standing water of ice dams. We also recommend having your rooftop snow periodically removed throughout the winter as part of regular maintenance. Above All Insulation has a dedicated Snow & Ice Dam Removal program as a way of offering complete insulation support. Keep in mind certain types of Winnipeg homes have inherent design flaws that can be improved upon to reduce the effects of ice damming, but there may not be a way to fully eliminate ice dams in some situations. Every house is different, so to find out what improvements can be made to your home, Above All Insulation is at your service.