By: Duane Blankenship | Category: Home Improvement | Issue: February 2011
Judy Smith, sales and marketing director, shows various selections of roofing shingles in the showroom at A-Best Roofing.
Tulsans have trusted A-Best Roofing for nearly 25 years. Judy Smith, sales and marketing director, offers a word of advice to area homeowners concerning problems with ice damming and what you should, and should not, do to prevent it. Ice dams may seem harmless, but if left unattended, they have been known to be responsible for causing thousands of dollars in damage to roof decks, structures and even interior sheet rock and furnishings. If that isn’t enough, ice dams can also create dangerous mold growth that can lead to or aggravate allergies, asthma, and other respiratory diseases. It is not something to take lightly.
Ice damming is a major cause of serious and expensive damage to homes each winter throughout northeastern Oklahoma. The problem is usually caused by improper ventilation in a home’s attic space, plus inadequate insulation. Heat loss is very costly and the effects of ice damming can be dangerous when it leads to rot and mold damage to the roof and inside walls of your home.
Improved attic ventilation and the addition of insulation to minimize heat loss are the two primary solutions to preventing roof ice dams when the weather turns wintry. “Inadequate insulation is literally money through the roof as your heating unit works overtime only to pump heat into the attic,” stresses Smith.
When an attic is not adequately vented, ice dams can form because of the warm air that is trapped in the attic between the ceiling and roof. Attic ventilation must be adequate to allow the attic to breathe. If warm air is trapped in the attic when there’s snow on the roof, the warm air rises and begins permeating roofing materials and causes snow and ice to melt. The overhang area of the roof is exposed to outside temperatures and does not have warm air passing through it to melt the snow or ice. Therefore, snow and ice serve as a dam. As water reaches the dam, it begins backing up and traveling upward under the roofing material. It can find its way through roof decking and frequently reaches a ceiling, where it can cause lots of damage. It’s not uncommon for water to begin dripping through the ceiling onto furnishings and flooring below.
Fortunately, there is a solution to the ice damming problem. Good insulation keeps heat in the living space where it belongs. A word of caution from Judy Smith: “Never cover your home’s soffits or roof vents. A home’s attic space must be able to breathe, and cool air must be permitted to flow through the attic year-round.” How many of you remember someone covering old attic whirly birds with plastic bags? Doing so prevents moisture from escaping – it gets trapped in the attic, leading to condensation and even the formation of black mold.
Areas most commonly affected by ice dams include roof valleys on the north sides of homes and north-facing porches. Proper installation of quality roofing materials, along with adequate insulation and ventilation, help maintain a good balance for your home.
A-Best Roofing is known in Oklahoma for quality roofing products and services. They are equally competent in installing the highest quality insulation and guttering products. Estimates are always free. Give them a call to make sure your home is breathing properly. You can then breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you and your home are free of the terrible consequences resulting from ice damming.
Blankenship graduated from the University of Oklahoma and has enjoyed a lifetime career in advertising. He started his own advertising business in 1993 and enjoys creating graphic art and writing. Hobbies include hunting, fishing and pencil drawings. Duane and his wife, Janice, have been married over 50 years and are active in their church and community. He has been a contributing writer for Value News/Values Magazine since 2005.