An ice dam is an ice build-up on the eaves of sloped roofs of heated buildings that results from melting snow under a snow pack reaching the eave and freezing there.
Typically, snow melts on a warm roof due to lack of insulation in the home and freezes on a cold edge of the roof, like an overhang or an insulated part of the roof.
You can prevent ice dams by treating the cause - if there isn't a cold edge of the roof for water to freeze, the water will drip off the roof. Adding a warm edge such as radiant panels which are heat tape wrapped in metal that conducts the heat through the metal will allow water to drain off the roof without freezing.
Ice dams can be removed by melting the ice with a hot steam machine, or with a chisel or hammer; care must be taken with forceful methods as roof damage can occur. The best way to keep ice dams off a roof is to prevent them from freezing in the first place.
Heat tape is a type of electrical cable with a current through it, which produces a safe amount of heat. The cable has a rubber protection around the wires, and heat permeates outward, preventing freezing on the wire.
Heat-traced gutters and downspouts simply have heat tape placed in the gutter, and through the downspout. This allows for water to run down the gutters and downspouts in the fluid state, without freezing.
Radiant heated panels and heat tape are actually the same thing but different! Roofs that utilize only heat tape tend to zig zag the heat tape on the edge of the roof. Roofs with radiant heated panels use a metal panel which conducts the heat from the heat tape throughout the panel on the edge of the roof; the heat tape does not zig zag as it runs straight through the panels, therefore using less cable and less electricity. As well, the panels utilize a greater surface area and are more effective at preventing water from freezing on a surface.
When there is an ice dam, snow melt water runs down a roof to the lowest point, which is where an ice dam classically forms because it is the lowest and coldest part of a roof. The melt water has no place to run off the roof, and pools behind the ice dam. Hydrostatic pressure then pushes the snow melt up the roof, and can enter under shingles, and enter the home.
Damage to gutters caused by ice (freezing and thawing pushes gutters out over and over) can be detected by bulges in gutters, and leaks in miters and downspouts. The back of a downspout, if an ice dam has occurred, often has an open seam, where ice has pushed the downspout apart at the weakest location (the seam).
Gutters with bulges and tears cannot be repaired and must be replaced. Small leaks can be sealed, if the cause is from sealant coming apart.
We recommend cleaning gutters yearly from leaves and other debris.
If you have had ice dams, or if you have a new build in an alpine environment, you should prepare your home ASAP. Doing this just once can save your roof for years to come. Yearly check ups are affordable and recommended. Once a system is installed, it can be automated and very little effort will be needed to maintain the system on an annual basis.
Depending on the size of your structure, heated panels can take an hour (over the front entrance of a home) to a week (an entire condominium association with multiple buildings and roof lines)
Alpine Ice Solutions warranties their products with service through Ableman Seamless Gutters for 10 years. This is a decade of peace of mind for parts and labor for the entire system.
If nothing is done to improve a situation, nothing will change; yes, ice dams will return when conditions allow. If you have had an ice dam in the past, you are sure to see the same ice dam again. Every time an ice dam grows, more water builds on a roof. It is a matter of time before water intrusion and roof repairs or replacement are necessary.
Ableman Seamless Gutters does provide shoveling and ice removal services. We use a chisel to remove the top layer of ice, to save time and customers' money. The bottom layer of ice is removed with hot steam to protect customers' roofs. Roof health is our specialty! We fix ice dams! Part of our mission is to clear snow to install products. It is important to remember that roofs can handle a heavy snow load - in fact, snow has trapped air and acts as an insulator!
Ableman Seamless Gutters has been growing due to the company's skilled crews and innovative technology. We couldn't do it without our customers and integrity. We provide quotes with pricing based on current manufacturers' costs. Our commitment to honest work and pricing means we are always happy to visit a potential customer and give a bid to remedy an ice or water runoff situation. Pricing always depends on CURRENT material costs. Our customers are always satisfied with our prices, and save money yearly on energy bills!