Archive for the ‘Ice Dam Prevention’ Category


Professional Roofers + Ice Dam Removal = Good News

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

Here is why it makes sense to hire professional roofers to remove your ice dams. It’s true. Most of our competitors are not roofers, nor do they understand residential construction.

Ice dam company professional roofers, professional results

Today one of our guys found a massive install error on a low-pitch rolled asphalt roof in Minneapolis. The client had no idea, and nor would any of our competitors who are not construction pros. The original roof installer failed to use adhesive between the roofing plies! (Photo 3, Point E) and no ice and water membrane whatsoever (Photo 3, Point F). That’s a major no-no. They also had all of the penetrations negatively lapped (sequenced into the asphalt improperly) (Photo 4, Point D). Good catch Paul!

The client with the roof leak in Minneapolis illustrated here called due to water pouring in through a light fixture under Point A, Photo 1. This by itself is not unusual. Roof leaks caused by ice dams often manifest many feet away from the source; sometimes a full story or two below the source. My initial theory was that water was traveling down the exterior wall of the shed dormer shown in Photo A. As it turns out, there was something more pernicious happening. The water was being pushed under an improperly flashed plumbing stack (Photo 2, Point B). While exploring the area our crews also noted the lack of lap sealant between the roofing plies (Photo 2, Point B and Photo 3, Point E).

This homeowner had used one of our largest competitors in town in 2014 to remove an ice dam (see highest ranking Google result). Guess what? They said nothing about the roofing defect. No big surprise because frankly, how would they know? They aren’t construction professionals, just ice dam removal guys who squirt ice off roofs with high-temperature pressure washers (not steamers!) (Click here to see the difference). We have seen this exact scenario play out countless times and to be honest, it’s frustrating to watch.

Ice dam company finds roof leaks

The Ice Dam Company is in fact the only company in the country with the in-house chops to diagnose and address problems with insulation, ventilation, roofing, sheet metal and other exterior envelope components. We also install miles of self-regulating heat cable each year on homes where the aforementioned architectural solutions are not appropriate or feasible. Most ice dam removal guys just use their pressure washers to squirt ice off the roof and that’s the end of it. For us, ice dam removal projects are often just the beginning of a longterm relationship with our clients. We end up remodeling their kitchen or adding onto their house through our sister company Kuhl Design + Build, a nationally recognized, award winning remodeling firm. The Ice Dam Company is a division of Kuhl’s Contracting, the third largest residential construction and remodeling company in Minnesota. There is a huge amount of cross-pollenization between the organizations. Each benefits from the resources and talents of the other. It’s fun to witness.

Ice dam company fixes roof leaks caused by ice dams and construction defects


Ice Dam Prevention: Two Approaches

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

How to Prevent Ice Dams on Your Home – Answers from the Experts

Overview

To be frank, the entire concept of ice dam prevention is a little bit disingenuous. There are certain circumstances where even the most well constructed, well insulated and ventilated roof system will get ice dams. Those situations are rare, but they do occur. When we talk about ‘prevention’, what we are realistically discussing is the field of work aimed at either reducing the likelihood of ice dams or minimizing the impact of ice dams if they do occur.

 

Two Approaches to Ice Dam Prevention:

We break ice dam prevention into two broad categories; Architectural and Non-Architectural. Architectural solutions involve modifications to the existing structure to alter the problematic thermal characteristics that are contributing causes of ice dams. In contrast, Non-Architectural solutions are comprised of the work done to minimize the impact of unwanted roof and gutter ice accumulations when they are likely to begin.

Architectural Approach

It’s seldom the case that a single home medication, once implemented, will permanently fix an ice dam problem. More often than not ice dam prevention involves a combination of changes in order to have a significant impact.

A very standard ice dam prevention project for The Ice Dam Company might involve enhancing or replacing the insulation in the attic or roof system, adding ventilation and sealing all of the air-leaks between the heated spaces and the attic and roof framing. Usually, this combination of endeavors yields good results. Sometimes it is necessary to alter the roofing system itself. Normally, this means installing a single ply roof system such as hand-soldered copper pans or a rubber membrane. Single ply roof systems are quite resilient in the face of ice dams but they will to work in all areas due to aesthetics. We will dig further into each of the three basic architectural solutions in other Case Studies.

Certain ice dam creation factors cannot be addressed through Architectural solutions such as insulation, ventilation, air-sealing or roof system enhancements. Case Study #19 discusses the relationship between the sun and ice dams. We recently installed heat tape on a 6 year old, $3.8 million dollar home. The homeowner had spared no expense relative to energy efficiency in the original design and construction. That was not the issue. The problem was simply that the sun was melting the snow on an exposed roof plane higher on the home which resulted in melt water running down to a cold eave area that was hidden from the sun. There it would re-freeze in cycles to create an ice dam that kept coming back year after year.

 

Non-Architectural Approach

In terms of ice dam prevention, there is a small set of options available that fall outside of the Architectural solutions. These involve systems to manage snow and ice accumulations as they develop on a roof. The most popular Non-Architectural ice dam solution is heat cables. Otherwise known as heat tape and roof deicing, heat cables are wires that warm up in response to electrical current. Typically, heat cables are installed in a serpentine or zig-zag pattern on a roof along the eaves. To be clear, heat cables do not resolve the underlying issues related to why ice dams are happening rather they help manage the issue of unwanted ice accumulations when the conditions are ripe for their formation. A common complaint about heat tape is that it does not address the real issues causing the ice dams. This complaint is justified because it is true. That said, heat cable systems can be installed on a home for a fraction of the cost of traditional Architectural solutions. Many homeowners are not in the position to spend $5,000 to $25,000 for Architectural ice dam solutions making the idea of a $1,000 heat cable system very appealing. We do both approaches every day.

We would be remiss in not mentioning the very most basic thing you can do to minimize the likelihood of ice dams; Roof shoveling. Diligently removing the snow from your roof can greatly reduce the likelihood of ice dams. Unfortunately, some roofs are too high or have areas inaccessible to the average homeowner, making roof snow removal an ineffective approach to guaranteed ice dam prevention. Removing all of the snow from the roof planes affected by the ice dams is very important. See the Ice Dam Company Case Study #3 that discusses a phenomenon called the ‘Double Dam’.

 

To read more Case Studies click here.


Icicles and Ice Dams

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

The Relationship Between Ice Dams and Icicles

Do Icicles Mean Ice Dams?

You may notice that the home shown below has some icicles (sarcasm intended). Obviously, when something like this occurs, it is quite likely that you have ice dams as well as a giant insurance claim from the subsequent water damage it has caused. The fact is, the vast majority of the ice dam steaming projects we complete are not on homes with monster icicles. When we arrive we often see quite modest icicles from the ground. The relationship between icicles and ice dams is not difficult to understand when you study the problem for awhile. This Case Study digs into the topic of icicles and ice dam life cycles.

Case Study 20

Do icicles mean ice dams? The short answer is NO. While icicles on the edge of the roof are often a precursor to ice dams, they are not always present when ice dams begin to cause leaks through a roof system. Ice dams and icicles are part of the same accumulation but they are not the same thing by any means. This brings us to the normal life cycle of an ice dam.

The characteristics of ice dams change over time. The typical lifespan of an ice dam rangers from a few days to a few weeks. During that time it may get thicker or thinner, icicles may appear and disappear on its’ leading edge, and it may be almost completely hidden under snow or partially or completely exposed. For this reason, there is a big different between a young ice dam and an old ice dam in terms of the presence of icicles. Very young ice dams often have visible icicles on their leading edge. Over the following days most ice dams tend to grow more in depth than thickness, meaning the ice migrates higher up on the roof plane (refer to Case Study #06 for more information). Icicles on more mature ice dams tend to melt away from the affects of direct sunlight or warmer outdoor temperatures. However, while the telltale icicles may be missing, the mass of the ice dam is left behind, frequently hidden under a blanket of snow.

Case Study 20.2

Case Study 20.3

The photos above (A) and (B) demonstrate this phenomenon on two St. Louis Park homes. Virtually no traditional signs of an ice dam and yet you see water leaking down the exterior wall, through the siding and in the wall cavity itself. Bad news.

Case Study #16 examines the important topic of ice migration, from icicles to the interior of your home.

 

To read more Case Studies click here.


Ice Dam Heat Tape: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Here is a cool Info-Graphic we just produced which illustrates the difference between high-quality and low quality heat cable and heat tape for ice dam prevention. Not understanding the difference between heat cable brands and styles can cost you a lot of money and headaches. In short, always install a commercial-grade self-regulating heat cable. Never install cheap, big-box retail cable (constant wattage). Here is a PDF of the below graphic.

How to know the difference between good heat cable and bad heat cable


Oregon Ice Dam Prevention – Helpful Hints

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

How to Prevent Ice Dams in Oregon

We have been received dozens and dozens of phone calls from homeowners in Bend Oregon, Portland Oregon and other Oregon metropolitan areas relating to ice dam prevention in the past two weeks. Homeowners all are asking the same question; What can I do to prevent ice dams on my Oregon home? We’ve written extensively about the topic of ice dam prevention but thought a basic summary would be appropriate here for our friends out west.

There have been an unusually high number of homes and businesses damaged by ice dams in Bend and Portland Oregon but the problem also affects other areas. Ice dam prevention in Oregon can fall into to broad categories, each with it’s own distinct advantages and disadvantages. The first family of ice dam prevention for Oregon homes is what we call ‘Architectural Solutions’. These are solutions that address the construction-related flaws that cause ice dams. The Ice Dam Company through it’s service arm in Minneapolis does a ton of architectural ice dam prevention projects, most notably to address poor insulation, poor ventilation and heat bypasses (places hot air can escape into areas it is not supposed to be such as the attic or roof truss cavities.

How Ice Dams Form on Oregon Homes

We know that when upper areas of a roof are heated to above 32 degrees, the snow melts and that melt water runs down to an unheated area, most commonly the outer edge of the roof known as the eave. When that water hits the unheated eave it refreezes. This process repeats hour after hour over the course of days resulting in the accumulation of unwanted ice that we all know as an ice dam.

Oregon Ice Dam Solution Path One

Architectural solutions seek to address the root causes of ice dams mentioned above. The primary advantage to using these approaches is that, like many home improvements, these solutions add value to a home in that the likelihood of ice dams (and the possibility of damage) is greatly reduced plus the performance of the home is enhanced over the long run. In other words, improving insulation and ventilation while reducing air leaks makes for a healthier, more efficient house. That translates into lower heating and cooling bills over time. We also implement non-home performance related architectural solutions to address ice dams in Boise and in Minneapolis. Specifically, there are certain roofing systems that can be installed under special circumstances that do a great job of preventing the damage done by ice dams. Those systems are usually single ply membranes or hand-soldered metal roofing.

The primary downside to all architectural solutions is of course the cost. They often cost quite a bit to execute. Enhancing insulation and ventilation properly often involves tearing off some or all of the roofing or ripping out interior wall and ceiling finishes to approach it from inside the home. It is not uncommon for architectural solutions to ice dam prevention to start at $10,000 and go north of $40,000.

Oregon Ice Dam Solution Path Two

The second branch in the ice dam prevention family that we implement is heat tape, or heat cable. Not all heat cable is created equal, however, so the most important consideration in using this approach is to choose a commercial-grade self-regulating heat cable such as Heat Tape Pro by Radiant Solutions Company. You can purchase ice dam prevention products here, on Ebay or Amazon depending on your preference. Heat cables do not address the underlying thermal misbehavior that is the actual cause of ice dams. Instead, it prevents damage done by accumulating snow and ice by created melted pathways for water to escape from the roof. When installed professionally, a high-quality self-regulated heat cable system

Ice Dam Prevention Boise Idaho

will easily last a decade.

Here is a helpful PDF on Ice Dam Prevention Heat Cable in Idaho: Idaho Ice Dam Prevention 1

Heat cables have gotten a bad wrap among some of the less experienced, less scrupulous  professionals out there as a method for preventing ice dams in Boise Idaho and other Idaho cities. This owes mainly to two things. First, many contractors and even some ice dam ‘experts’ don’t know the difference between self-regulating heat cable and constant wattage heat cable. Here is a great info graphic we developed to illustrate the difference for you. Constant wattage heat cable, such as EasyHeat, Frost King and WrapOn are commonly found at big box retailers and are simply awful.

The second reason heat cable and heat tape is sometimes disregarded as a legitimate answer to ice dams is that while some home owners in Oregon would love to drop $10,000 into and insulation and ventilation retrofit, it is simply not affordable. They do the best they can and heat cable is a perfect compromise.

We always tell our clients that the primary upside to heat cable is cost. Most systems we install run in the $1000 to $2000 range and provide years and years of reliable service.

service.


Steve on WCCO Talking About Heat Tape Pro Heat Cable

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Our very own Steve Kuhl spend some time on WCCO discussing Ice Dam prevention and heat tape/heat cable installation. In it Steve discusses Radiant Solutions heat cable product Heat Tape Pro which is the Ice Dam Company’s Heat Cable of choice of protecting your home against Ice Dams, as well as the phenomenon of ‘Double-Dams’, where ice dams can form in multiple locations on your roof.

See the Full video here:


Ice Dam Removal and Heat Cable Installation Package

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

We are the only company in the Twin Cities that regularly installs heat cables directly after steaming ice dams off the roof. We have it down to a science. In fact, installing heat cables immediately after roof ice dam steaming is a great idea because our clients prevent same-season call backs for additional ice dam removal. Speaking of science, did you know that we are a direct-to-consumer manufacturer of heat cable? It’s true and we sell it to home owners and installers all over the country.

Heat tape installation project Edina Minnesota Ice Dam Company

We are the only company in the Twin Cities that is both a manufacturer of commercial grade self-regulating heat cable and an installer. Our product is ETL and UL Listed, comes with an industry leading 5 year warranty and is built to last. This is not your typical big-box retailer heat cable. Frankly, that stuff is a joke and you should NEVER allow anyone to install it on your roof. Our self-regulating heat tape runs on 6 watts per foot and, as the name suggests, demands more energy when the outdoor temperatures are cooler and less when it is warmer. Our products are sold all over the United States because people have come to recognize our company as an industry leader in the development and installation of the finest ice dam heat cable products in the world. Click here to visit our store. Or, simply go to Amazon. We sell a ton of it there as well under the brand name HeatTapePro.

Ice Dam Company Heat Cable – Self-Regulating, Commercial Grade

We are often asked about heat cable and heat tape. Is it a good idea? Does it prevent ice dams? Are there better solutions. As with most topics, the answers are highly dependent on a number of variables. We are going to keep this post simple.

 

No other company in the Midwest does a higher volume of ice dam prevention work than The Ice Dam Company. Our association with Kuhl’s Contracting, a premier exteriors and insulation company in Minneapolis results in many jobs that combine home performance enhancements with top-notch roofing services. Likewise, The Ice Dam Company also installs a lot of heat cable here in our home town.

Minneapolis heat coil installation for ice dams


Ice Dam Prevention in Boise Idaho

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

How to Prevent Ice Dams in Idaho

We have been received dozens and dozens of phone calls from homeowners in Boise Idaho in the past two weeks. They all are asking the same question; What can I do to prevent ice dams? We’ve written extensively about the topic of ice dam prevention but thought a basic summary would be appropriate here for our friends out west.

Ice dam prevention can fall into to broad categories, each with it’s own distinct advantages and disadvantages. The first family of ice dam prevention for Boise Idaho homes is what we call ‘Architectural Solutions’. These are solutions that address the construction-related flaws that cause ice dams. Most notably, those are poor insulation, poor ventilation and heat bypasses (places hot air can escape into areas it is not supposed to be..namely the attic or roof truss cavities).

How Ice Dams Form on Oregon Homes

We know that when upper areas of a roof are heated to above freezing, the snow melts and that melt water travels down to an unheated area, most commonly the outer edge of the roof known as the eave. When that water hits the unheated eave it refreezes. This process occurs over course of days, normally, resulting in the accumulation of unwanted ice that we all know as an ice dam.

Oregon Ice Dam Solution Path One

Architectural solutions seek to address the root causes of ice dams mentioned above. The primary advantage to using these approaches is that, like many home improvements, these solutions add value to a home in that the likelihood of ice dams (and the possibility of damage) is greatly reduced plus the performance of the home is enhanced. In other words, improving insulation and ventilation while reducing air leaks makes for a healthier, more efficient house. That translates into lower heating and cooling bills in the long run as well. We also implement non-home performance related architectural solutions to address ice dams in Boise and in Minneapolis. Specifically, there are certain roofing systems that can be installed under special circumstances that do a great job of preventing the damage done by ice dams. Those systems are usually single ply membranes or hand-soldered metal roofing.

The primary downside to all architectural solutions is of course the cost. They often cost quite a bit to execute. Enhancing insulation and ventilation properly often involves tearing off some or all of the roofing or ripping out interior wall and ceiling finishes to approach it from inside the home. It is not uncommon for architectural solutions to ice dam prevention to start at $10,000 and go north of $40,000.

Oregon Ice Dam Solution Path Two

The second branch in the ice dam prevention family that we implement is heat tape, or heat cable. Not all heat cable is created equal, however, so the most important consideration in using this approach is to choose a commercial-grade self-regulating heat cable such as Heat Tape Pro by Radiant Solutions Company. You can purchase ice dam prevention products here, on Ebay or Amazon depending on your preference. Heat cables and heat tape are often downplayed as a legitimate solution to ice dams.

Heat cables do not address the underlying thermal misbehavior that is the actual cause of ice dams. Instead, it prevents damage done by accumulating snow and ice by created melted pathways for water to escape from the roof. When installed professionally, a high-quality self-regulated heat cable system

Ice Dam Prevention Boise Idaho

will easily last a decade.

Here is a helpful PDF on Ice Dam Prevention Heat Cable in Idaho: Idaho Ice Dam Prevention 1

Heat cables have gotten a bad wrap among some of the less experienced ‘professionals’ out there as a method for preventing ice dams in Bend Oregon, Portland Oregon and other areas. This owes mainly to two things. First, many contractors and even some ice dam ‘experts’ don’t know the difference between self-regulating heat cable and constant wattage heat cable. Here is a great info graphic we developed to illustrate the difference for you. Constant wattage heat cable, such as EasyHeat, Frost King and WrapOn are commonly found at big box retailers and are simply awful.

The second reason heat cable and heat tape is sometimes disregarded as a legitimate answer to ice dams is that while some home owners in Oregon would love to drop $10,000 into and insulation and ventilation retrofit, it is simply not affordable. They do the best they can and heat cable is a perfect compromise.

We always tell our clients that the primary upside to heat cable is cost. Most systems we install run in the $1000 to $2000 range and provide years and years of reliable service.

 


Heat Tape Pro Self-Regulating Heat Cable

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

Roof deicing cable

HeatTapePro is a premium brand of commercial-grade, self-regulating heat cable. We are strategic partners with the Radiant Solutions Company, the direct manufacture of HeatTapePro and all related installation accessories.

Ice dam roof deicing cable installation information

HeatTapePro self-regulating heat cable

HeatTapePro self-regulating heat cables are designed to be used for a variety of roof de-icing, gutter de-icing and pipe freeze applications. Self-regulating heat cable automatically calls for more energy when ambient outdoor temperatures are lower and conversely, less energy when outdoor temperatures are higher. HeatTapePro is pre-terminated in our factory for your safety and convenience. No field modifications will be necessary to the cable to use it for the described purposes.

You can purchase HeatTapePro through our store here or at The Heat Cable Store, , Ebay or Amazon.


Minneapolis Ice Dam Removal Before and After

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

It’s official. The 2016 ice dam season has begun. We had a number of crews out today removing ice dams from St. Louis Park, Minneapolis, Edina, Minnetonka and St. Paul. We have more ice dam steamers than anyone in the country and yet it always feels like a bit of a scramble the first day. Men, supplies and equipment all being organized and deployed from our headquarters in Hopkins. Our warehouse looked like a war zone today. Hoses, anti-freeze and kerosene containers, steamers, shovels, all scattered around as we assembled the trucks for duty. As hectic as operations are the first day of each season, our clients see none of it. I liken the whole thing to a duck moving across a pond. From above the duck glides seemingly effortlessly but under the water his legs are moving like crazy. After this many years in business, I know this is how most businesses happen.

Before and after of ice dam removal project in Minneapolis

Here’s something cool from today. Our guys are all professional roofers which means they understand exterior envelopes and construction assemblies. Today one of our guys found a massive install error on a low-pitch rolled asphalt roof in Minneapolis. The client had no idea. The original roof installer failed to use adhesive between the roofing plies! That’s a major no-no. They also had all of the penetrations negatively lapped (sequenced into the asphalt improperly). Good catch Paul!

The Ice Dam Company is in fact the only company in the country with the in-house chops to diagnose and address problems with insulation, ventilation, roofing, sheet metal and other exterior envelope components. We also install miles of self-regulating heat cable each year on homes where architectural solutions are not appropriate or feasible. Most ice dam removal guys just use their pressure washers to squirt ice off the roof and that’s the end of it. For us, ice dam removal projects are often just the beginning of a longterm relationship with our clients. The Ice Dam Company is a division of Kuhl’s Contracting, the third largest residential construction and remodeling company in Minnesota. There is a huge amount of cross-pollenization between the organizations. Each benefits from the resources and talents of the other. It’s fun to witness.

Ice dam removal project before and after photos from Minneapolis project 12-21-16

Ice Dam Removal, Ice Dam Prevention

Removing Ice Dams in Minnesota: We Serve Many Areas in the Minneapolis Metro

The Ice Dam company based out of Hopkins, Minnesota, about 5 miles west of Minneapolis. We've done gutter ice removal, roof ice removal and ice dam removal all over the Twin Cities, on new houses and old ones.

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