An ice dam is a blockage of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents water from melted snow from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas.
What causes an ice dam?
The interactions between the amount of heat loss from a structure, snow cover, and outside temperatures can form the recipe for an ice dam. One obvious face is that for ice dams to form there has to be a source for the water which is snow on the roof. When there is snow present on the roof and the higher elevations of the roof’s outside surface are above freezing and lower elevations of the roof are below freezing, we have a recipe for an ice dam. These temperatures are sustained over periods of time which time is another critical factor in ice dam formation. Now what causes the temperature changes on a roof can be a number of factors. Poor attic insulation is one factor that can cause heat loss from the interior of the home. That heat finds its way into the attic and to the higher elevations of the attic when the heat rises. When the temperature change of the attic begins to melt snow the water flows down the roof to the colder, lower elevations where the temperature is lower and freezes.
Other examples of temperature changes that can cause an ice dam is when the radiant heat from the sun melts the snow on the upper part of the roof and that water flows down the roof and hits a colder eave overhang, with no exposure to the attic, it can also freeze.
The bottom line is that the snow on a roof surface that is above freezing will melt. As water flows down the roof it reaches the portion of the roof that is below freezing and freezes creating the ice dam. As the cycle continues of freeze-thaw, freeze-thaw, the ice dam grows as it is fed water from the cycles. When the ice dam is large enough it will begin to dam the water that flows from the upper part of the roof. This water sits there and can evenutally find its way into the attic and the interior of the structure.
What can Heatizon do about ice dams?
Heatizon has a few solutions to try to solve ice dam issues once and for all. These proven products are considered a permanent solution while promoting longevity and a resolution that will last more than a couple of years. We have three solutions. Two of these solutions are Low Voltage and address the problem by heating the roof from under the roof covering. The other soluton is to install a gutter melt self regulating heat trace cables in a zig zag pattern on the roof to hopefully help the problem.The first step for a Low Voltage electric under shingle roof deicing system is to determine what roof covering you have.
- If your roof is a non-conductive shingle such as asphalt, slate, shake, membrane etc. we offer ZMesh which is a bronze screen heating element installed under the roof covering. ZMesh is unique because it can be nailed and stapled through: click for more information on ZMesh
- If your roof is a metal roof we offer Tuff Cable. Tuff Cable is a coated copper wire that is installed in a heatsink under the roof covering: click for more information on Tuff Cable
When your only option is to install something on top of the roofing materials we offer Gutter Melt. GutterMelt is an industrial grade self regulating heat tracing cable in a zig zag method on the roof eave and valleys or wherever the problem may be. click for more information on GutterMelt
For all roof deicing applications please our ice dam prevention and roof deicing products pages here