How to Avoid or Deal With Ice Dams on Your Roof in Winter

Complacency with Winter Roof Maintenance Can Result in Ice Dam Formation

Roof Rake Removing Winter SnowThe relatively snow-free winter season to date has most likely been appreciated by many homeowners who have spent little time shovelling, removing ice from stairs and walks, or even scraping frost from car windows. However, while the winter has been relatively mild in some parts of the country, notably in Toronto and Southern Ontario, there is still some time for a major snow storm or two before the spring arrives.

Although better-than-expected winter weather conditions will undeniably lift homeowner spirits, they can also lead to complacency in terms of home maintenance requirements, especially where the roof is concerned. In fact, if heavy snow on the roof remains a possibility, and it is allowed to accumulate there, the pattern of temperature fluctuations this winter could result in freeze-and-thaw cycles, in turn creating issues with ice dams in gutters and along roof edges.

When snow resting on a roof is warmed and melted, by the sun or by heat escaping from the home, the run-off naturally travels down the roof slope to the gutters. However, this latter area is generally much colder than the rest of the roof; this can convert the melted snow into ice, and the repetition of this process results in the formation of an ice dam.

An ice dam, fundamentally, is not a good thing; it prevents melted snow from draining into/along the gutters and eventually away from the home’s foundation. Unfortunately, this water still needs to go somewhere, so it works its way underneath the roof and into the home itself. If this is not corrected, i.e. if ice dams are not removed, homeowners in Toronto and Calgary may face repair needs for the following areas/aspects of the home:

  • Roof deck/trusses
  • Structural foundation
  • Exterior masonry or siding
  • Attic (insulation, ventilation)
  • Interior ceilings, walls, flooring
  • Internal wiring/electrical systems
  • Soffits, fascia, and eavestroughing

The removal of ice dams, however, may not be as easy/straightforward as homeowners might assume, as it must be done with proper care/caution. Any impromptu/improvised attempts may result in additional albeit unintentional damage, especially to the shingles, soffits/fascia, and gutters/downspouts – and this does not take into consideration safety concerns associated with working on a ladder or a roof during the winter.

Therefore, if homeowners have suspicions or concerns about ice dam formation on their roof, it is highly recommended that they capitalize on the services of professional roofing contractors such as Triumph Roofing. The teams from Triumph Roofing in Calgary and Toronto have the experience and expertise to remove ice dams efficiently and effectively while simultaneously preventing any inadvertent damage to the roof or eavestroughs.

At the same time, these professionals can perform an inspection of the roof area in close proximity to the ice dams and recommend any immediate maintenance or repair needs.

Roofing Contractors Can Offer Several Options for Avoiding Ice Dam Formation

Roof Rake Removing Winter Snow
Of course, the best way to deal with ice dams on a roof is to take steps that can prevent them from occurring in the first place. One way to do this would be to clear accumulated snow from the roof as soon as possible; this should be done with a special roof rake and, because of safety issues once again, be left to a trained roofing services provider such as Triumph Roofing

Other precautions that can be implemented by these expert roofing contractors include:

  • Performing regular gutter cleaning and maintenance
  • Ensuring that the attic is properly ventilated/insulated
  • Sprinkling calcium chloride (not rock salt) in the gutters
  • Installation of one or more of the following:
    • Gutter guards/screens
    • Gutter heating cables or heat tape
    • Ice-and-water shields under the front rows of shingles

For further information on the roof and gutter repair and maintenance services offered by Triumph Roofing, see our Maintenance Page.

The winter weather in the Toronto and Calgary areas can place homeowners at risk of ice dam formation on their roof. If you suspect or have evidence that ice dam development has occurred along your roof edges/gutters this winter, call the professionals at Triumph Roofing at 416-534-8877 in Toronto or 403-452-4114 in Calgary or contact us to schedule a service call as soon as possible.

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