Winter in Ohio can give us weather of different sorts. One day it's freezing and snowing, the next day it could all melt and give us hope for a warm day just to freeze everything again the following day. Add in a sloped roof that's had little to no maintenance and you have a problem just waiting to happen. That's usually where ice dams come into play. Ice dams form on sloped roof systems in cold climates where accumulated snow on the sloping roof melts, flows down the roof under the insulating blanket of snow, then reaches below freezing temperature air at the eaves. This is where all the damage happens.
The melting snow (water) that is draining backs up behind the dam and can leak into the building causing damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and more. See below for a detailed illustration of an ice dam.
As you can see in the picture, this structure displays the perfect formula for an ice dam leak. Heat loss, snow cover, and temperature variations from above 32°F at top to below 32°F toward the bottom of the slope.
This dam will continue to grow as the melting snow above feeds it. Areas below 32°F will freeze and become part of the dam, areas above 32°F will back up behind the dam and remain a liquid. This liquid will then find any openings in the exterior structure and flow into the attic, ceiling, or insulation.
What to Do If You Have One
Call a roof professional to safely remove the snow, assess the damage, and make any necessary repairs. Trying to do this yourself could put you at risk of a fall or other injury. Trust a professional on this one.
Make sure your ceiling is air tight. You do not want warm, moist air flowing into your attic space. Consider adding more insulation after sealing off any and all air leakage points. Also, ensure proper ventilation in your building's attic space. Ventilation is important to many different aspects of a building including the roof system.
The best way to avoid problems is to have your roof inspected and maintained each year. If you're uncertain of your roof's condition, call your commercial roof experts at Frost Roofing for a no-obligation consultation. We'd be more than happy to answer any questions you may have and provide our services to you. We don't wish ice dams on anyone, but if you have one, you know who to call! 419-739-ROOF