Ice: Your Roof’s Nemesis
It is one of your roof’s most formidable foes. It can collapse a roof, clog drains, bust drain lines, and create a dangerous slip and fall hazard; we’re talking about ice.
While a sheet of ice is normal, a chunk of ice that’s inches thick isn’t. “If you see a big piece of ice that is blocking a drainage way, call your roofer,” says J. J. Longerbeam, Vice President and Service Manager, D. C. Taylor Co., Cedar Rapids, IA. “Don’t bust off ice with a hammer or use a snow blower to get snow off the roof. It causes a lot of damage. Also, don’t put ice melt down. You’ve seen what it does to concrete; it ruins it. Imagine what would that would do to the roof, gutters, downspouts, or drain lines.”
The most likely places for ice to form is around roof drains, scuppers, anywhere that ponding water forms, and at the roof eave. Ice dams can occur on both steep and low-slope roofs. Temperatures that warm with the sun and dip to below freezing at night cause a freeze-thaw cycle that can exacerbate the problem. When water has nowhere to go because of frozen drains, gutters, and downspouts, ice can back up and break the seal of the roof, as well as damage curbs and flashings. When the snow warms and melts from the bottom, it inevitably results in roof leaks.
Ice damming is also especially problematic whenever a roof system has minimal insulation (think warehouse). Warm air circulating under the roof heats the system, causing the ice and snow on top to melt.
In the war against ice, arm yourself with preventive maintenance. Here are a few tips:
- Make sure drainage ways are clear of debris and leaves.
- Install a snow retention system (i.e. snow rail/fence, snow shoes, or snow guards). These systems hold the snow on the roof so it can gradually melt off.
- Call a professional roofing contractor. They not only know how to work safely on the roof, they can also clear ice and snow.
- Hire an electrician to install heat tape. It kicks on when the air is below a certain temperature, inhibiting the formation of ice. It can be run around roof drains, eaves, gutters and downspouts.
For a roof inspection, safe snow and ice removal, or a leak evaluation, call D. C. Taylor Co. at 319.363.2073.