It’s not a common occurrence in North Texas for it to snow. Add to that oddity the fact that snow can fall and actually stick and us Texans are at a loss for words. But, on the rare occasion that winter gives us snow, most of us wouldn’t know how to protect our roof from damage. Did you know that when snow accumulates in the eaves of your roof, it’s called ice dams?
Ice dams are when ice form along the margins of your roof. And, when the ice is still frozen, it’s not necessarily a danger. But during the day, when the sun begins to melt the ice, water begins to pool up behind the ice and can seep under the shingles.
While there’s no single method to preventing ice dams, there are some steps you can take to reduce the effects.
Create a cold roof. It sounds counter intuitive, but a cold roof is key to keeping the snow and ice frozen and preventing water from seeping. Most often, the roof gets warm from a warm attic. Heat escapes through the ceilings into the attic and then the attic warms the roof and the ice and snow melt. When the water runs down the roof, it hits the cold edge, where the attic doesn’t reach, and it refreezes. This creates a rim of ice that traps water behind it.
To prevent this from happening, you need to keep your attic and roof cold. Keep the attic cold by closing attic bypasses. Air leaks caused by unblocked walls, gaps in drywall, cracks around light fixtures, plumbing pipes, and other ceiling penetrations are the culprits. Stopping air leaks requires you climb in the attic, caulk, use foam to plug leaks, rake back insulation, or some other method. It’s tedious and sometimes, difficult to reach.
If you choose to do this work on your own, make sure you wear a dust mask, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants. If you find the leaks to difficult to reach or have safety concerns, contact your local roof expert.
Another way to keep your roof cold is to add roof vents. Attic ventilation sucks the cold outdoor air into the attic and moves the warmer attic air out. This cools the attic and the roof in the process.
This method seems simple, but to install a roof vent, the process can be timely. There are also additional deterrents, such as roofs with angled ceilings and no attic, roofs with skylights, low-slope roofs, and flat roof dormers. If you face these deterrents, then you might need another solution.
If a cold roof isn’t working solely, you can rake the snow off your roof. A snow rake is designed for heavy snowfall. It pulls the snow off the roof before it has the chance to melt.