Solving the Ice Dam Problem in Steamboat Springs

Posted on: October 3, 2013 by in Snow & Ice
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If you are like a lot of Yampa Valley residents, the early arrival of winter weather again has you thinking about your annual ice dam problem on your roof.

But don’t worry. There is still time to address this issue before the big snows so you don’t have a another problem this winter.

Cause of Ice DamsMany believe that the ice dams are the result of a problem with roofing or attic ventilation, but that’s really not the case.

The real cause of ice dams is warm air in the attic area combined with snow on the roof and the right weather conditions.

When warm air gets into your attic area (or maybe you have vaulted ceilings with no attic area), it melts the ‘bottom’ of the snow on your roof.

That melted snow then flows down the slope of your roof until it reaches a cold spot…which, surprise, is usually a soffit or eave, where it then forms a frozen dam.

The ice builds back up under the shingles or shakes on your roof, causing damage to your roof and allowing water to leak into the ceilings and walls below.

So it’s really the warm air leaking from your home or business into the attic area that is the main cause of ice dams in the Steamboat Springs area.

Anywhere that there is a way for warm air to get into your attic space – think wires, plumbing vents, light fixtures, chimneys, etc – there is the potential for air leaks and ultimately ice dams.

Even newer homes in the Steamboat area that are only a few years old may not be properly sealed and may be prone to ice dams.

So the ultimate way to prevent most ice dams is to make sure there are no, or at least minimal, air leaks into your attice space with caulking or expanded spray foam or something similar.

One other thing to check is to make sure that there is adequate insulation in your attic, specifically near the eaves of your roof.

So, now you know why you get ice dams, but what can you really do about it?

Here are a few solutions…

Ice Dam Removal Steamboat Springs

The Arctic Steamer makes ice dam removal a safer and easier process.

  • As noted above, sealing attic air leaks saves energy and is key to preventing ice dams.
  • Get ann energy audit on your home or business building with an infrared scan can that pinpoint trouble spots.
  • If snow and ice must be removed, hiring licensed roofing contractors that use steamers is strongly recommended. And guess what…Wilson Roofing Division is the Steamboat Springs expert in using low-pressure steam to remove ice buildup from roofs.

There are also some things that you should NOT do…

  • Removing the ice with shovels, chippers, chemicals, or excessive heat or pressure can damage your roof, gutters and the integrity of your building—and can be really dangerous.
  • Adding roof vents—including powered vents—will not eliminate ice dams, and often makes the problems worse.
  • Additional insulation—especially on the top plate of exterior walls—can reduce heat transfer to the roof deck, but insulation alone is insufficient. Typical attic insulation alone will not stop air leaks or prevent ice dams.

And one more thing…

At Wilson Roofing Division we also install quite a lot of heat tape for clients, opting for heat tape made by Heatizon at 12 watts a foot.

We can also look deeper into the building to make sure proper ventilation, and good insulation is in place, and there is minimal heat leaking into your attic area.

Heat Tape Installation Steamboat Springs

Installing Heatizon Heat Tracing Cable on a Steamboat area roof

The truth of the matter is that most of the cut up roof lines on custom homes in the Steamboat Springs area are well insulated and vented.

The problem is in the dynamics of the flow off the roof. With so many custom roof lines and valleys leading off your roof, it can be difficult for melted snow to drain completely and this is where heat tape comes in.

We can make sure, through the use of heat tracing cables, that the melted snow has a passage off the edge of the eves of your roof to minimize the ice dams.

So there you have it…hopefully that helps you understand a bit better about why your property gets ice dams and what needs to be done to prevent the dams or get them removed when they have formed.

Call Wilson Roofing Division today at (970) 871-0442 to learn more about options for preventing ice dams in the first place, including top quality heat tracing cables, and to learn how Wilson Roofing Division is the leader in the Steamboat market in the use of low pressure steam to remove ice dams that have already formed.