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Ice Dams and Roof Damage: Does Water Flow UpHill

Which Comes First, the Ice Dam, the Law of Gravity or an Unstable Roof?

Before digging into the concepts of ice dams, consider this strange roofing phenomenon: Water sometimes flows uphill. It begins by backing up due to hard wind or hard ice. It accumulates until the power of gravity forces a change in direction. Then the damn breaks. The consequences may be a trickle that can be corrected before major structural damage accumulates. On the other hand, when water submits to gravity your roof may leak with an explosive impact that results in great and costly destruction.

Ice dams don't really make water flow uphill, but it the backup forces the water to rise rather than flow the end result is the same. Other roofing problems that cause water to flow uphill include clogged drains, gutters and downspouts.

Back in 2006, a Metrolina construction company encountered a major leak issue during the restoration of the local Albemarle Road IRS building. It started just after a summer gully washer dumped inches of rain across all areas of Mecklenburg County. In no short time, crushing stories of flash floods, structural damage and leaky roofs dominated the news.

Next morning when the construction firm returned to the old IRS project, ceilings were falling out, carpets were drenched and insulation was ruined. Rather than mere drips, the overnight leaks ran almost continuously and with no sign of stopping. Repair costs mounted quickly as did material requirements.

In search of the problem, work crews took to the roof. Water stood knee-deep on all the lower sides of the flat roof building. Several roof drains were completely clogged with fallen leaves, limbs and other materials. The crew feared a complete collapse of the roof. Even with the accumulated backup, the water had forcibly found new ways for obeying the law of gravity.

Roofing Tips For Reliable Prevention of Ice Dams

Having a sturdy roof is critical to home protection from rain and snow. The importance of unhampered water drainage cannot be overstressed. Learn how to check your roof for clogged drains, ice dams and other signs of roof damage. Regular inspections can protect your home from the dangers of rainfall, sleet and ice. Few things can create as much damage as trapped roof water obeying the overwhelming law of gravity.

Although often used in office and industrial construction planning, flat roofs are not standard on residential homes. Most of you have asphalt shingled, wood shake or metal roofs. In cold snowy weather, ice dams are a typical problem.

According to the University of Minnesota, the ridge of ice that accumulates at the edge of your roof is called an ice dam (1). When an ice dam prevents melting show from draining off your roof, the water temporary flows uphill in the sense that it rises to a higher bulk level. As a result of the clog, the water eventually begins to seep, leak or explode into your home. The accumulated damage associated with ice dams includes:

  • Web attic insulation
  • Possible electrical shorts
  • Collapsed ceiling tiles
  • Water stains
  • Ruined sheetrock
  • And more.

Stop the water leaks. Prevent the uphill flow of water. Don't risk the financial losses associated with ice dams, accumulated water and volatile leak damage. Correct know ice problems ASAP.

Even if major damage doesn't come, water beneath your roof shingles results in long-term material rot. Melting snow may not create a "technical" ice ridge, but trash in the gutter can accumulate with refreezing to result in blockage and poor roof drainage. If debris gets beneath your roof shingles, water may eventually get there too.

Preventing the Damage

In the event of known ice problems, take immediate action. Start by cleaning the snow and ice off your roof. Use a roof rake or a push broom, but be careful not to damage the roofing materials. If your home is already showing signs of water damage, contact your local roofing contractor . You need immediate service.

The contractor can also help you with long-term solutions to ice and water damage. Adding insulation to your attic space may be of great help. Cleaning your gutters also provides long-term protection. Installing roofing gutter guards eliminates those drainage problems. Make sure to correct any roof damage already caused by the ice dam.



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