Ice Dam Removal

Sun and Ice Dams: Cause and Effect

December 20th, 2016

The Relationship Between Sunshine and Ice Dam Formation

Ice dams happen when there is a section of roof that is above freezing (32°) where roof snow melts which then drains to an area that is below freezing, usually the eaves, where it refreezes. The source of this temperature differential is usually the result of interior heat loss, specifically via air leaks and insulation issues. In fact, according to our experience, 95% of our client’s ice dam problems can be mitigated or eliminated altogether through the modification of the thermal characteristics of the home. Still, we see ice dams on certain homes for reasons outside the scope of it’s architectural deficiencies. Homes with what we might call nearly perfect air-sealing, insulation and ventilation still get ice dams. This Case Study describes such a situation.

Case Study 19

The winter sun hits Minnesota homes (and all homes in this latitude) at a low angle during the winter. The result is that certain roof slopes never see direct sunlight while others get hit quite directly. The above illustration demonstrates an ice dam situation that relates to the heating effects of the sun. Solar radiation warms the roof slope on the dormer (1), the resulting melt water drains to an area of the home (2) that never sees direct sunshine where it refreezes to form an ice dam (3). These are particularly challenging ice dams to prevent. Often times heat tape, also known as heat cables, are the only affordable option.

 

To read more Case Studies click here.


Ice Dams Are Happening!

December 19th, 2016

Ice dams have begun.

In my travels around Minneapolis today looking at ice dam prevention jobs, I noticed a number of homes that already exhibit signs of ice dams. To be more specific, I noticed water and ice coming down the siding and in through the eaves on a number of homes such as the one shown here. This represents a clear signal that water is backing up behind an accumulation of ice on the roof and going where it’s not supposed to go. Want more signs of ice dam issues, click here. With another snowstorm approaching on Christmas, I’m predicting that this might be another troublesome year for Minneapolis homeowners relative to ice dams.

Ice dam removal Minneapolis

What can you do? Unfortunately, once ice dams form and begin to cause problems, the only answer is to have them professionally removed. We use true steamers, machines that superheat water to steam. How do you tell the difference between a high temperature pressure washer used by competitors and a steamer? It’s simple. Does the gun have a trigger or not? If it has a trigger, it is simply NOT a steamer. IDSAFE, a unique organization whose entire purpose is to educate property owners on ice dam steaming, can be found here. The Ice Dam Company is a proud member of IDSAFE. All of our machines have been verified to meet the standards of true ice dam steamers, unlike two of the largest ice dam removal companies in the Twin Cities. (You know who you are!).

Of course the better answer to ice dam removal in Minneapolis is ice dam prevention. We engage in more ice dam prevention work than anybody in the United States, employing both architectural solutions and non-architectural solutions which includes heat tape and heat cable, insulation, roofing, remodeling and general home performance inspections.

Our sister company, Kuhl’s Contracting, engages in the hundreds of attic insulation retrofits and reroofing projects every year in Minneapolis and surrounding communities to address the underlying causes of ice dams. Kuhl’s Contracting also installs heat cable and heat tape on commercial properties and residential properties all over Minnesota. We are proud to sell HeatTapePro, made by Radiant Solutions Company, a premium self-regulating commercial grade heat cable available on a number of online retailers including Amazon. HeatTapePro can also be purchased at The Heat Cable Store, an online direct-to-consumer website that sells a number of heat cable and heat tape products by different manufacturers. Of course, you may also buy HeatTapePro here, at The Ice Dam Company Store.

Click here to schedule an appointment with our ice dam removal or ice dam prevention teams.


Close Up of an Ice Dam Leak

December 15th, 2016

A Simple Explanation of Where the Water Goes When Ice Dams Cause Leaks

Where the Water Travels:

Water hitting the Top Plate of the wall (A) spreads out across the top plate, travels downward with gravity, working behind the Siding (B) the Housewrap (C), the Insulation (D), the Vapor Barrier (E) and the Drywall (F). Water always seeks the path of least resistance and therefore frequently shows up through existing penetrations in the ceiling such as lights. Water leaks caused by ice dams can travel many feet from the source before manifesting inside the home. On homes built with vapor barriers on top of the ceiling finish, water will sit on top of the drywall and soak the insulation before leaking inside.

Case Study 18

 

To read more Case Studies click here.


Mansard Roof Ice Dams

December 13th, 2016

Ice Dams on Mansard Roofs Can be a Seriously Big Headache to Remove

Roof Styles Affect Ice Dam Severity

As discussed in Case Study #16, there can be some serious problems if homeowners decide to remove snow from only a portion of the roof plane affected by ice dams. We call it the ‘Double Dam’, which refers to the fact that ice dams can grow much further up the roof when only lower sections of snow are removed (commonly done with roof snow rakes because they can’t reach high enough on the roof).

Case Study 21.2

Mansard roofs, such as this one from Edina, Minnesota, can create massive ice dams when the steep pitch (B) is cleared of snow. This is amplified when the slope has directional bias towards the north because the sun will not help melt the ice as it accumulates. In the photo, below, we see two ice dam problems on this Edina mansard roof. The traditional location (A) is exacerbated by the low roof pitch (Case Study #09 explores the relationship between roof pitch, or roof slope, and ice dams). Area B has an ice dam that covers the entire span of the roof slope. This took many hours to remove even with our commercial ice dam steaming equipment.

Case Study 21

 

Which Ice Dam Do You Want?

Ice dam #1 is not the one you want. Ice dams like this take hours to remove with steam, which is the most efficient and safe method for removing ice dams. This ice dam is thin but it has grown many feet up the roof. Ice dam #2 is an easier problem to resolve.

 

To read more Case Studies click here.


Ice Dam Prevention: Go Thermal

December 12th, 2016

What Frost Melt Patterns Can Tell You About Your Home

Insulation and Ice Dams

At their most fundamental level, ice dams are the result of the interaction of heat loss and snow on your roof. An experienced Ice Dam Company Thermographer can use photos like these in conjunction with infrared imaging to see the weak points in your home’s thermal envelope. If you have a moment on the next frosty morning, take a few photos of your roof from a few angles before the sun hits it. Those photos may end up saving you time and money if you are hoping to fix the root cause of ice dams and home heating inefficiencies. Of course, ice dam prevention involves more than simple insulation job, but understanding the basics through frost pattern analysis, thermal imaging and a good site inspection is a great place to start.

Case Study 12 Case Study 12.2 Case Study 12.3

 

To read more Case Studies click here.


When Roof Shoveling Can Cause Problems

December 8th, 2016

How Using a Roof Rake Can Make Ice Dam Problems Much, Much Worse

You may have read that removing snow from your roof will prevent ice dams, and for the most part that is true. Ice dams get their fuel (i.e., water) from the snow on your roof after all. Remove the snow, remove the problem. So this winter you buy a roof rake, brave the cold and remove as much snow from you roof as you can, leaving a section of snow still in place higher on the roof that you couldn’t reach. A few weeks pass and bam! You see water leaking through your ceiling. How can this be? The answer lies in a phenomenon we call the ‘double dam’, something we have seen over a hundred times in the past decade alone. Our graphic below helps explain the how and why.

Case Study 16

Ice Dams Prevention: How Much Snow Should be Shoveled From a Roof?

Of the two ice dams illustrated above, the Double Dam presents a couple of challenges beyond those of the regular ice dam. First, because ice has grown further up the roof slope, the subsequent leaks inside will cover a wider area. The second problem with a Double Dam is the cost of removal. Although half the thickness, it may take two to three times longer to remove than a regular ice dam. More time equals more money.

Shown below is a very typical Double Dam. This home in Minnetonka, Minnesota had been leaking from both ice dams and the cost to remove them was tremendous. Area A is where the average ice dam likes to form. Area B only forms when someone does an incomplete snow removal job from the roof. So what is the take-away from this case study? Remove all the snow from roof slopes that may produce an ice dam or remove none at all. While the latter may result in an ice dam happening on the lowest edge of the eave, at the very least it won’t be a Double Dam.

Case Study 16.2

 

To read more Case Studies click here.


Salt Socks, Pantyhose and Ice Dams

December 8th, 2016

Observations on the Effectiveness of Ice Melting Compounds on Ice Dams

Can Dad’s Old Pantyhose Save Your Home?

Case Study 13

Over the past 25 years we have seen many different methods used to address ice dams. More often than not those measures are reactive, not proactive. Thus is the case of the lowly salt sock, otherwise known as a cloth tube of some sort filled with an ice melting compound of some sort.

Salt socks work on the principle that the ice melting compound is contained in a linear form which, when laid across an ice dam, will melt a channel through the ice. That path would then presumably be used as an escape route for water that may tend to get trapped behind the ice dam. The purpose of the sock is to hold the ice melting material in place, thereby concentrating the melting action. (Yes, that was a cross-dressing joke about dad).

 

Concept Vs. Reality

The only problem with the sale sock is that it simply doesn’t work. The examples below show typical results. In theory, salt socks seem like a great idea. In practice, however, using them to deal with an ice dam is not practical. One problem is that in order for them to do their intended job (Cut channels through the ice dam) they need to be placed somewhere meticulously, every 16″ or so. That’s a lot of socks. Next, we see that they tend to only melt about 90% down through the ice dam and then putter out. We have no idea why they don’t melt a clean slot right down to the roofing material but it never happens? The net result is that the melt water that causes ice dams, and the leaks that follow, still can not find a way off the roof. That’s bad. Perhaps the most dangerous part of using salt socks (outside of balancing on a ladder to position them all perfectly) is that they create a false sense of hope. Homeowners tend to ‘install’ them and not look back. That is, until water is dripping through the ceiling.

Case Study 13.3

These salt socks didn’t melt down to the roof, resulting in massive water damage to the interior walls. (Can you find the ice on the siding?)

 

Case Study 13.2

Sad and ineffective pantyhose, encased in ice.

 

Here’s the bottom line: Don’t use salt socks or pantyhose filled with ice melting compounds to manager your ice dam problem. It simply doesn’t work. 

 

To read more Case Studies click here.


Roof Pitch and Ice Dams: Part 1

December 8th, 2016

How Roof Pitch (Roof Slope) Affects the Impact of Ice Dams on Standard Residential Construction

Fact: The Flatter the Roof, the Less Ice it Takes to Cause Problems

As discussed in previous Ice Dam Company blogs and Case Studies, there is a strong relationship between roof slope and the timing and likelihood of damage as the result of ice dams. Specifically, low roof slope areas are far more susceptible to damage by small ice accumulations than areas of steeper slope. Why? It comes down to basic geometry. Study the diagrams, below. You can see that the high slope roofs (C) require a pretty thick ice dam to form before water will begin leaking into the home. Eave depth plays another important role. See Case Study #10 for more information.

Ice dams create leaks when melted water from higher on the roof slope hits a dam of ice and is forced to travel backwards, up and under the plus of the roofing system (typically asphalt shingles). When that backward motion occurs outside the plane of exterior wall (dotted red lines in diagrams), the water runs down the exterior wall or through the soffits (zone indicated by happy face). As soon as the water falls on top of the top plate of the wall it seeps down through the wall causing damage to insulation, finishes and flooring (zone indicated by sad face). Truthfully, water coming through your soffits is nothing to be happy about. The next step is the interior of your home so it is considered an emergency in terms of the progression of the ice dam. As mentioned before, if you see ice coming through the soffit or down the exterior wall, it’s time to get that ice dam removed.

Case Study 9

Case Study 9.2

Case Study 9.3

Wayzata Residence with Low Pitch Roof Suffers the Consequence

Seen below is a home in Wayzata, Minnesota where we steamed an ice dam a couple of years ago. The construction assembly was typical 2×6 walls, 12″ eaves, 6″ facia with a 2/12 roof pitch. From the ground, no ominous, threatening icicles could be seen, just a couple of pathetic whiskers of ice off the face of the gutter through the soffit (D). Pan out and you see that the entire exterior wall was bleeding ice through the siding. This is bad. This home had massive damage to the interior insulation, drywall and flooring systems.

Case Study 9.4

Case Study 9.5

Case Study 9.6

As discussed in Case Study #06, low pitch roofs also tend to create ‘deeper’ ice dams (E), where the ice has grown further up the roof. Deep ice dams take far longer to remove.

Three take-aways:

  1. No icicles does not mean no ice dams.
  2. Low pitch roofs present higher risks in terms of how quickly small ice dams can cause big problems.
  3. Ice or water coming down the exterior wall in below freezing conditions is bad. Very, very bad.

 

To read more Case Studies click here.


9 Common Types of Ice Dam Damage

December 5th, 2016

1. Water Damage

Case Study 11

 

2. Ruined Insulation

Case Study 11.2

 

3. Mold and Mildew

Case Study 11.3

 

4. Gutter Damage

Case Study 11.4

 

5. Property Damage

Case Study 11.5

 

6. Soffit Damage

Case Study 11.6

 

7. Landscaping Damage

Case Study 11.7

 

8. Falling Ice

Case Study 11.8

 

9. Flooring Damage

Case Study 11.9

 

To read more Case Studies click here.


Ice Dam Removal Cost

December 1st, 2016

How Much Should it Cost to Have an Ice Dam Removed: Ice Dam Steaming Costs Explained by The Ice Dam Company

Ice Dam Removal: Pricing Vs. Cost

As mentioned in Case Study #05, there is a big difference between price and cost when trying to figure out how much your ice dam removal project will cost. The price is what someone tells you over the phone, normally relating to what they charge per hour for their ice dam removal services. We made a list of the 8 most common factors in determining the cost of ice dam removal in Case Study #05. Here is an examination of one major driver in ice dam removal cost: The depth of the ice dam.

Case Study 6

Which takes longer to remove?

Intuition might suggest that thicker ice dams (A) take longer to remove then thinner ice dams (B). Not true. The main factor in the ice dam removal cost is how far up the roof the ice has grown. We refer to this as the ‘depth’ of the ice dam. Deeper ice dams take much longer to remove than those that are thick but shallow.

Estimating the Cost of Ice Dam Removal by Steam

You might think that after having removed thousands of ice dams around the country over the past 25 years we would be able to provide an accurate estimate over the phone as to how long a project might take. Sadly, we can’t. Anyone offering a guaranteed timeframe for ice dam removal projects over the phone is frankly full of it. We know that we can often remove between 10-15 feet of ice dam as measured along an eave every hour after the equipment is set up (C), below left. We know that there are many factors that determine the ultimate length of the ice dam steaming time, as discussed in Case Study #05. One of the main project timeframe drivers is ice dam depth and it can not be known until an experienced eye sees it and that can’t be known until the snow has been removed from the area. Until the ice dam is fully exposed it is impossible to know how long it will take to remove it. In the photos below, the ice dam on the right took three times longer to steam off than the ice dam on the left, even though it was 1/3 the thickness and the roof was a ‘walker’. It’s all about how far up the roof the ice has grown.

Case Study 6.2

Case Study 6.3

 

To read more Case Studies click here.

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.

Website Design and Development by A.Fruit Design