In Minnesota, we design roofs to hold snow, not frozen lakes. So, when the temperature rises enough to melt the snow and create standing water, but then freezes before it runs off the roof it creates the perfect conditions for ice dams.
Unfortunately, ice dams are just a part of living in Minnesota, like -10 degree days. A solid roof system with good drainage and insulation can help you prevent some of the costly damage caused by ice dams.
How do ice dams damage a flat roof?
- Exterior drains or scuppers and downspouts freeze first, allowing water to back up on the roof. This causes additional freezing.
- Drains and downspout break from the expansion of the water as it is changing into ice.
- When the water doesn’t drain off the roof then the roofs fill up with water. Then, the water backs up underneath the metal and up into the siding, seeping into the walls.
What can I do to prevent damage from ice dams?
Often you can do everything right and still get ice dams. There are a few tactics to undertake to prevent ice-dam damage:
- Properly installing heat cables can stop ice dams and keep water flowing off the roof so it doesn’t become a frozen lake. Remember that once the ice is frozen, it is just frozen and doesn’t do much but sit there. The danger is when it begins to melt.
- If you have an ice dam, you should determine if the drain or downspouts were damaged by the ice. If they were, then you should replace them before they leak. You will need to have the drains and downspouts opened to ensure that the water is getting off the roof and not draining into the building.
I have ice dams, what do I do now?
If you’ve discovered that you have an ice dams, you should have the ice removed from the drains, valleys and downspouts to prevent further backup of ice. Ice removal includes steaming, power washing, chipping, turning on heat tape and applying salt.
Ice dams might be part of life in Minnesota, but you can limit the amount of damage that they do to your roof. If you need advice on how to deal with ice dams, call the experts at Rayco Construction at 612.781.6092.