Durable Difference: Ice Damming Prevention

With frigid temperatures upon us, ice damming will often occur on slate or tile roofs, which can lead to extensive damage to the interior of one’s home.

Ice damming occurs when snow accumulates on the roof and is then melted by heat loss from inside the home and/or direct sunlight. This melting water then proceeds toward the eaves where it refreezes, creating an ice dam at the edges of the roof and along the gutters. With the ongoing freeze and then thaw, ice and snow begin to buildup on the edge of the roof and cannot drain away.

“Now are optimal conditions for ice damming,” said Mark Sherby, a quality control expert for The Durable Slate Company. “Melting snow and ice may be prevented from draining off of the roof and can back up under the slates.  After that, it won’t take long for water to penetrate the inside of the home.”

A potential indicator of ice damming is the presence of icicles, especially if icicles are forming through the soffit or anywhere else other than off of the front of the gutter.  If that is the case, Durable Slate will send an inspector to evaluate potential solutions.

Another indicator that ice damming could be on the horizon is poor insulation or ventilation. Heat will typically escape the living area into the attic space and quickly melt the snow on the roof, Sherby said.

Ice damming essentially leads to water penetration, which is where the major damage can occur.

Signs of water penetration:

  • Peeling paint
  • Dark stains on the walls and/or ceiling
  • Masonry deterioration
  • Decaying wood under the gutter
  • Water dripping through the window frames

How do we fix it?

In emergency situations the ice and snow can be carefully removed from the edge of the roof and gutters. A lack of experience if doing this though can lead to costly damage, Sherby said.

To prevent ice damming, proper ice and water shield membranes need to be installed directly to the roof decking. This involves removing all of the slates along the eaves of the roof to apply the membrane. Then all of the slates must be re-installed. The re-installation of the slates is the step often done improperly by contractors without adequate training and experience. Customers should note that a roof has not been properly protected unless that membrane has been installed 24 inches beyond the inside of the exterior of the wall.

Keep in mind that some walls, especially on older homes, can be quite thick. For a two-foot thick wall and two-foot overhang, proper installation would dictate 6 feet of ice and water shield membrane from the eave.

The installation of snow guards can sometimes help also, they will hold some of the snow and ice in place so that it can melt slowly instead of building up at eaves of the roof. For more information, visit the full article on snow guards.

“Conditions have to be right, but when it happens it can be disastrous,” Sherby said.

The Durable Slate Company has offices located throughout the Eastern United States, including: Columbus, OH; Cincinnati, OH; Cleveland, OH; Laurel, MD; Rockville, MD, and more. Call us today for a free, honest inspection and prepare your roof for the upcoming winter weather.

Mark Sherby works out of The Durable Slate Company’s Columbus branch. Working in the Quality Control Division, Mark has more than 15 years of experience on slate and tile roofs.

More than a roof. It's a Legacy.