Calgary Roofing: What You Need to Know About Ice Dams

Nearly every winter, Calgarians are waiting for chinooks. If you live here, you know what we mean. You have been battered by freezing winds, sub-zero temperatures, and snow that feels like it never ends. When those chinooks come they can sometimes raise the temperature by 20 degrees, melting most of that snow and turning it into ice. We may love chinooks, but they make Calgary roofing a little bit tricky as they form ice dams.

Ice dams tend to occur on roofs with a slope. In between chinooks, snow accumulates on your roof and then when the warm winds come the snow on the higher elevations starts to melt, driving water down to the lower elevations and your gutters where it pools and then freezes, literally causing a dam of ice. They tend to cause some interesting looking icicles to form but that is not a good thing. Ice dams are a recipe for water damage.

The Damage It Can Cause

Once an ice dam forms at the edge of your roof and snow continues to melt and freeze it will just keep growing. If you allow a dam to get big enough the water will stop freezing and start seeping into any crack it can find, this will create water damage in your ceilings, walls, insulation, and attic, which as we know, will create the perfect conditions for mold to grow.

Ice dams have been known to break or lift shingles, tear off your gutters, and put immense pressure on your roofing system which can eventually cause structural damage and flooding. The chaos caused by the ice can be devastating.

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How to Spot One

It is important to know how to spot an ice dam before they get to be too big and start wreaking havoc on your roof. It is completely normal for icicles to form at the edge of your roof; however, the bigger and thicker they get the more worrisome they become. If you have abnormally large icicles forming you should also check for ice building behind the gutters, icicles hanging off of the edge of the gutters, ice forming on the exterior walls of your home, water coming through your window frames.

What to do if You Have a Dam

When dealing with your roofing system, your safety is always paramount. It can be hazardous to be up on your roof at any time, but doubly so in the winter. Our advice will always be to call in a professional Calgary roofing company to come do an inspection and get rid of your ice dam. There are non-toxic chemical agents they can use to get rid of the ice, as well as using high-pressure steam to remove it.

How to Prevent Ice Dams

It is not just chinooks that cause ice dams, poorly ventilated attics are a culprit as well, ensuring proper ventilation of the roof and eaves is a good place to start. Cleaning your gutters just before the winter will go a long way, adding extra insulation to your attic will help keep the heat inside, and having a water repellent roofing membrane will go a long way.

Like that old saying goes, the best offense is a good defense. If your home is prone to the danger of ice dams, it may be time to think about replacing your roofing system altogether. Contact the trusted Calgary roofing team at United Roofing to find out about ice dam proof systems and get a free quote – we’ve got you covered!

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