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Chris Lofaro Thu, Feb 17, 2022 @ 03:30 PM 2 min read

What are ice dams and how do we prevent them?

If you’ve been doing research on roofing to get ready to start your project, a term you’ve almost definitely come across is “ice damming”, but what is an ice dam? Why does it happen? And most importantly, what can be done to prevent it from becoming a problem?

Drive around the neighborhood after any snow storm and what you’ll see is that snow always collects at the bottom of the roof. This is caused by the heat of your home rising to the peak of the roof and melting the snow, which then drips down to the bottom, or the eave. The water then collects along the eave and freezes, creating what we call an ice dam.

The reason this is such a cause for concern is that once that snow and ice begins to melt in this area, it has nowhere to go but down; if your roof hasn’t been properly protected, this could create a pretty substantial leak. The low temperatures and the weight of the ice traps the water in place and starts to force it down into any cracks or openings it can find; this means any seam in the shingle, any nail hole, even the smallest opening can be a pathway for that water to get into your home.

You can prevent ice dams using heating cables or similar products, but the real protection actually comes from below. When installing a new roof, one of the first steps is installing the “Ice and Water Membrane”. Every shingle manufacturer distributes their own product, but they’re all more or less the same; Ice and Water is a thin sheet of fiberglass, coated in asphalt designed to adhere to the wood deck of your roof. When a nail is shot through the membrane, the fiberglass mesh creates a waterproof seal around it, preventing any leaks from dripping down into the wood.

This product is required for any warranty work and is used on almost every job, but it’s important your contractor knows where it’s needed and how to properly install it to give your home the best possible protection from the elements.

If you have any more questions about protecting your home from the weather, give us a call!

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