ICE DAM AND ROOFTOP SNOW REMOVAL IN WINNIPEG

Roofco is Winnipeg’s leader in rooftop snow and ice dam removal!

Hundreds of homeowners and commercial clients rely on us every year for winter maintenance on their rooftops through hourly, monthly or seasonal contracts. Roofco’s guarantee to its customers is to provide a service in a safe and timely fashion and to ensure that zero damage occurs on your roof or property while we are completing your maintenance. For these reasons, Roofco does not subcontract any work to third party contractors and each rooftop snow removal is completed by a minimum of 2 Roofco staff members.

Let Roofco worry about your roof through the winter season so that you don’t have to!

Rooftop Snow and Ice Dam Removal Service in Winnipeg, Manitoba

You may have noticed long icicles hanging from your gutters and not realize the significance of the damage that may be occurring behind them. Icicles are usually one of the first warning signs of possible ice dams. An Ice dam is a wall of ice that forms at the edge of the roof. They usually form at the gutters or soffit. When it forms the water then backs up behind the ice dam and creates a pool of water. This pool of water can leak into your home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and other areas.

Protect your home from the hazards of ice dams and improper roof snow removal methods. Properly removing an ice dam can be quite dangerous if you don’t know how. Let Roofco provide this service for you. We pride ourselves on our quick response and quality service to thousands of homes each winter.

Winter brings with it a gloomy atmosphere. It also poses potential damage to your home. This is especially true if you are living in a state where heavy snow is common and where simple rooftop snow easily turns to ice dams. While it might seem that icicles forming on your gutter and snow piling up on your rooftop are harmless, the opposite is actually true.

If you are not cautious when it comes to your rooftop and simply ignore the importance of roof snow removal, you might start encountering the following problems:

  • Ice dam– the more snow piles on, the higher the chances of it melting and reforming into an ice dam. An ice dam in itself does not pose a threat. However, the water that it prohibits from leaking usually ends up leaking through the house’s insulation, ceiling, and walls, weakening the said areas and contributing to their destruction.
  • Collapsed roof– your roof can only hold so much. Once it exceeds its limit, you can guarantee that it will crack and possibly break—an end result you surely do not want to experience. This can only be prevented by going with roof snow removal.
  • Additional expenses – of course, once water leaks into your home and your roof started collapsing, you can guarantee that additional expenses are soon to come your way. If you want to avoid paying for these additional unwanted expenses, then you must opt for roof snow removal instead of simply brushing the problem aside.

HOW MUCH SNOW CAN YOUR ROOF HANDLE?

The answer to this question depends less on the amount and more on the design. There are also outward signs that your roof may be at risk of collapse. Understanding the structure is key in determining how much snow accumulation may be damaging to your home.

A roof is an assembly of support beams, rafters, and other structural components. It is topped off with a material covering the top of your home. The amount and spacing of your structural support will determine how much additional weight your roof will withstand. The slope, the material it is constructed from, and even the density of the snow all impact your home differently.

Heavy Snow Regions

Living in Winnipeg we experience higher than average snowfall, the best option for your situation would be something that is both steep and smooth. This will encourage snow to slide off rather than accumulate rapidly. You will also want your support beams close together to increase the strength of your roof.

The worst type of roof to have in case of a snow storm is something that is totally flat, or only marginally sloped. Some homes may have a steep main room, but flat roofing below. This will increase your risk of collapse as snow slides from the roof above, accumulating on the vulnerable flat roof underneath. Other risk factors would be wide spaces between your rafters. This will reduce the overall structural integrity of your roof.

The condition of the roof can be a risk factor regardless of the design. Even if you have a steep roof, if your support beams have been cracked by age, bent or seem to be infested with mold or termites, your roof could be in danger in a snowstorm. Assess the state of your roof before winter to make sure everything is structurally sound. Even if your roof appears to be in good shape, when the weather clears, it is always a good idea to use a roof rake to clear heavy patches of snow from the top of your home.

INERTIA, SHORT DURATION, AND REDUCED TRIBUTARIES

  • Most roofs are able to withstand winter snow due to three main principles: inertia, short duration, and reduced tributary areas.
  • Tributary areas.Roofs are designed so that any snow that collects is focused toward the strongest portions of the roof.
  • Your roof would be at much higher risk if it had to bear the weight of snow all season long. Unfortunately, this is often the case in Winnipeg.
  • Your local building code usually ensures that your rafters are spaced close enough that they are able to handle high amounts of weight without bending, which is referred to as inertia. As long as your home is up to the code in your town, you should be fine.

WHY RELY ON ROOFTOP SNOW REMOVAL PROFESSIONALS?

When it comes to roof snow removal, you will basically have two options: remove the snow yourself or hire professionals to do the job for you. For those who are thinking of the costs, the first rooftop snow removal option will probably sound more convenient and favorable. However, for those who think of real results without any risks of physical injury, the second option is the better choice.

You see, sometimes, cheap costs do not offer the reliable and secure results that we want to gain. Without much experience, rooftop snow removal will even prove to be a difficult and highly dangerous task. If you do not want to risk your and your family’s safety, then it is best to hire professionals instead. If you are still not convinced, then the following quick rundown might help change your mind:

  • Price– as earlier noted, it might seem that it is cheaper or more affordable to work on rooftop snow removal yourself. However, without enough experience, you might end up damaging your rooftop further instead of fixing it.
  • Tools– simple tools such as shovels and roof rakes are used. Using these tools on your roof correctly is key. Without knowing how to use these simple tools correctly, roof damage will occur. Roofco’s crews are experienced and knowledgeable using shovels and roof rakes correctly.
  • Process– there is a right method of rooftop snow removal, and there is a wrong one. Climbing the roof and manually removing the snow is the right way; professionals like Roofco know this, and that is why they follow an effective process that will rid both snow and ice that have formed on your rooftop and gutter.

Roof snow removal need not be a hassle. Contact Roofco for their same or next day service guarantee!

 

 

What is an Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that typically forms along the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining off of the roof.

Poor insulation and lack of adequate ventilation in the attic space causes the roof deck to heat up and melt the snow above.  When it does, the water (AKA melted snow) flows down the roof and gets backed-up behind the dam with nowhere to drain off.  Not only does this pool of water eventually refreeze into more ice (and continue to grow in size), but in the meantime the water can work its way under the shingles (or other roofing material).  At this point, the water can leak into the home or building, and quickly cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and other internal parts of the structure.

  • Indoor heat rises through the ceiling, into the attic, and warms the roof (from the underside). The shingles get warm.
  • Snow that has fallen on the now-heated part(s) of the roof melts. The melted snow then flows down the roof until it reaches the part of the roof that is lower than 32F (most commonly the overhangs). This water refreezes and begins to form an ice dam.
  • The dam gets bigger and bigger as more snow melts and refreezes. Water now begins to pool behind the increasingly large wall of ice.
  • Eventually, the water works its way through the shingles (or other roofing material) and flows through the roof decking and into the attic. From here it can seep through the ceiling, the interior walls, and into the rest of the building.

Why Are Ice Dams Bad?

You may already have a hunch that you’ll need to get that ice dam removed, and are in a mild panic because you’re not sure how or when to get it done.  Still, you might wonder whether you can or should wait it out.  Here are the main reasons you should probably get that ice dam removed right now:

Reason 1: Ice dams often cause water to leak through your roof and into your home.

That water can cause all kinds of expensive interior water damage, cause electrical failures (or fires), result in black mold, ruin furniture and valuables, and displace people and pets. Sometimes you see a little leaking before it gets worse, but sometimes the leaking is heavy right away.  Leaking is the biggest immediate reason to get ice dams removed, and it’s the biggest risk you run in delaying – unless an electrical fire breaks out.

Reason 2: Ice dams often attract even more snow and ice. 

Snow tends to stick to or pile up on ice dams, and icicles often form on or near ice dams. That snow and ice can fall off your roof, causing damage to property, injuries, and even death in some cases.

Reason 3: Ice dams make it harder to keep your roof snow-free.

They get in the way of your raking the roof. Of course, not keeping up with roof-raking is probably a major reason you have ice dams in the first place, so for most people the formation of an ice dam is the “I give up” point.

Reason 4: There’s a small chance your roof may collapse. 

Roof collapses don’t happen as often as you may think, and we don’t know of a single case where an ice dam was the only reason a roof collapse. But ice dams weigh tons, and roof snow often weighs even more.  The combination of ice dams and roof snow is just too much tonnage for some roofs to handle (especially if rain follows a heavy snowstorm).

Reason 5: Ice dams ruin your peace of mind. 

Even if this ice dam won’t end up damaging your home or causing other harm, you can’t know that for sure.  You can live in a house for 40 years and never have an ice dam, until the Big One shows up.  You can have an ice dam every year and have it go away on its own, until you get one that wrecks everything.

By the way, an ice dam is plenty of trouble on its own, but it’s also a sign of a larger problem: either your attic has an insulation problem, a ventilation problem, thermally leaky areas (aka. attic bypasses), or all three. It’s unusual for ice dams to form on a cool roof. Nearly every time, ice dams form because the attic contains too much heat, and causes snow to melt and run down your roof, refreezing and damming when it reaches the colder parts of your roof (usually your overhangs or valleys, or both).  If minimal heat enters your attic because of proper insulation & sealed attic bypasses, or if heat easily can escape your attic because of proper ventilation, ice dams are far less likely to become a problem.

 

13 Principles to Ensure Your Ice Dam Is Removed Safely

We mean “safe” ice dam removal in two respects: safe for everyone in your home, and safe for those around your home’s exterior. Even ice dam removal companies that complete most jobs safely do so despite themselves. In their rush to make a buck, by ripping through your job so they can get to the next job, they cut corners or simply don’t know what they’re doing.

Based on our ice dam removal experience in Winnipeg, we’ve put together some principles you can follow to make sure your ice dams are removed safely, properly, and only once:

1. Don’t try to. Even if you know what you’re doing and know what to do if the situation gets hairy (big “ifs”), there’s just no way you have the proper equipment to get it done safely. Your life and health and home are worth more than whatever you’d pay ice dam removal professionals to get it done right and safely.

2. Make sure the technicians are paid well enough to want to do it properly. To do that you need to use a reputable company like Roofco who has the references to prove their work. If they give you a quote over the phone, or if the quote makes you think “That’s not too bad!” rather than “Ouch,” or if they promise to have your job done in a specific amount of time, then the ice dam removal company skips or skimps on something. Usually, it’s a combination of inadequate equipment or using inexperienced seasonal labourers. You probably won’t even know what’s wrong until after you’re in the soup.

3. Get your ice dam removed before it leaks if possible. It’s nice to avoid a huge repair bill. If you miss the window, and you’ve already noticed water or moisture entering your home, consider your situation an emergency and act swiftly.

4. Make sure everyone knows that an ice dam removal company will show up.  you’ll prevent a lot of confusion and clunking of heads.

5. Don’t try to stuck to your house. It’s tempting because it’s fun, but ripping off an icicle can set off an at-home ice avalanche, and it can damage or tear off shingles

6. Tell your tech whether you’ve got any leaking, and how bad any leaking is. If your ice dam tech knows that a certain part of your roof has given way to a leak, he may alter his flight path or timing.

7. Tell your tech if you know your Ice-filled gutters are heavy, and can detach from your house if they get much heavier or are provoked otherwise. That means your ice dam removal professional may want or need to clear the gutters early on. It’s a good idea to mention early whatever you know about your gutter situation. A true ice dam removal professional will discover ice-filled gutters sooner or later anyway, but an early warning is always helpful.

8. Tell your tech what’s on the roof (e.g. vents, etc.) and what areas might require extra care. Most ice dam technicians assume your roof consists mostly or entirely of shingles, and they haven’t seen what your roof looks like without the blanket of snow and ice. Sure, we’re always as careful as possible, and on the lookout for any roof penetrations or protrusions, but an early warning is helpful and conducive to a safer and easier job.

9. Tell your tech – next to your house, in your yard, on your patio, etc. Whether it’s a gas grill, a patio table, lawn furniture, an A/C unit, or your favorite berry bush, it’s probably under feet of snow and not known to your ice dam pro. We use a to remove ice dams efficiently, a piece at a time, so we want to know where not to drop the chunks, or if something needs to be located and moved. Even if you use a company that uses the slow and costly non-chunk-cutting “just melt everything” ice dam steaming method, you still may want them not to pile snow and ice on certain parts of your property.

10. Try not to talk to your tech while he’s on your roof. He may be a friendly guy, and probably would like to talk with you, if only he could do so and remove your ice dam safely at the same time. But that’s not possible. He can’t hear you too well, he needs to keep his eyes on the roof, and an ice dam steamer can freeze solid if you stop running it even for 60 seconds on a cold day.

11. Don’t hurry your ice dam removal tech. You don’t want him to forget or skip or rush a step because you’re counting the minutes and want him to know it’s now a hair past a freckle. We understand the urge, and we know ice dam removal can get expensive, but impatience never makes the job easier or faster. A true ice dam removal pro isn’t rattled, and will put safety above all else, no matter what. If you have specific concerns (as opposed to “Why does it take so long?”), mention them to your ice dam removal tech after he’s brought you both to safety, or give him a call on his cell.

12. (and all the snow, preferably). There’s a chance that everything will melt soon, in which case may be all you need to avoid roof leaks. Or maybe not. There’s no way to know. More likely is you’ll just need to call the ice dam removal company again, and will end up paying for two expensive jobs rather than for one expensive job. One large job is always less expensive than two smaller jobs.

13. Make sure snow doesn’t cover your exhaust vent or pipes. If snow plugs those up and your home won’t ventilate properly, . Check those spots before, during, and after any ice dam removal work. Show your Roofco ice dam removal pro where those vents are located, because even a light cover of snow can make them invisible or hard to see.

Dangers of Heavy Snow on Your Roof

With heavy winter snowfalls and frigid temperatures, it is common for snow and ice to accumulate on roofs in Winnipeg. When snow and ice accumulate on top of your roof, they can quickly become a hazard, especially along flat surfaces and seams, such as the chimney. Here are a few of the dangers snow and ice can potentially cause and why they’re so important to avoid.

Snow Can Be Much Heavier Than You May Realize
As light and fluffy as snow may appear when it falls, we know how deceiving it can be and anyone who has experienced shoveling knows this deception all too well. Once that snow begins to melt and combine with water, it can become extremely heavy. In fact, 10-12 inches of fresh snow equates to 1 inch of water, which weighs about 5 pounds. You can imagine just how heavy and dangerous all of that snow that’s been accumulating on your roof can really be.

It Can Weaken the Structural Integrity
It can take little time for lingering snow to soften the surface of the roof and eventually weaken the structural integrity of it. Although this can usually take a more significant amount of time to cause severe damage, a heavy snowfall can be all that’s needed to place pressure on areas that may already be frail and decaying.

It Can Cause Leaks Throughout Your Home
Accumulating ice and snow can cause a form something called an ice dam. In the cold weather, ice can collect along the edge of your roof and prevent melting snow from draining off as it should. This water gets backed up, and wants to find somewhere to go. As a result, it can leak into your home and damage the walls, ceiling, or insulation.

It Can Cause Areas to Collapse
Roofs that are flat or built without the proper support structure for minimizing weight and pooling moisture, are the most susceptible for collapsing under excessive weight. This is why it is imperative to consider your location and climate whenever you are designing or considering purchasing a home with a flat roof.

Apply Preventative Measures
Annual maintenance and inspections are essential for helping to prevent any severe consequences from all of that accumulating snow. You can contact us and have an expert assess and inspect your roof and of course, perform any repairs that might be necessary to keep it good and strong against those harsh and potentially heavy winter elements. We also offer rooftop snow removal in the winter to reduce weight on the roof and prevent the formation of roof dams.

 

Understanding ice dams is the first step in preventing them happen on your home in Winnipeg. Ice dams are formed when snow melts, runs down your roof, and re-freezes near the overhangs, building a wall which traps more melted snow behind it.

Ice dam prevention efforts tend to fall into one of two categories

  • Ensuring on your roof snow does not melt.
  • Ensuring there isn’t any snow on your roof to melt in the first place.

There are only four causes of ice dams:

  • A hot attic. Your hot attic turns your rooftop into a stovetop, virtually guaranteeing snow-melt.
  • Fluctuating temperatures. Typically, temperatures rise and melt snow during the day, and then plunge at night, refreezing the snow.
  • Radiant heat from the sun. That can melt snow even when temperatures hold steady.
  • Certain “perfect ice dam temperatures.” Temperatures between 30 and 32 degrees present a risk, because it only takes a little bit of heat either from the attic or from the sun to melt snow.

Of these four causes, “hot attics” are the most common.

Why doesn’t all the melted snow just run harmlessly off your roof?

Two reasons:

Even if you’ve got a hot attic, some places on your roof are colder. Usually, you’ll find these places around the overhang of the roof: the spots near the edge of your roof that hang over your house. The attic doesn’t heat those parts from underneath, so they remain cold. They’re often rimmed with metal gutters, which can get even colder. , but they do extend your overhang, and they hold freezing temperatures quite well. There may be other places on your roof that do not touch the attic directly. Those areas are vulnerable to ice dams, too. As soon as the melted snow hits those cold areas it will freeze again.

The other reason melted snow stays on your roof long enough to cause problems is the leisurely nature of the drip. The melted snow (the water) drips along the top of the snow pack slowly. It’s not like watching water run along a smooth surface. Rather, it takes some time to get to the edge. Plenty of time to freeze, even before making it to the cold overhangs. That’s one reason ice dams can form anywhere on your roof. It’s also why the water never makes it to the ground.

Why We Can’t Promise to Help You Prevent 100% of All Ice Dams Forever

Ice dam prevention can only increase your chances of avoiding ice dams. Even if you’ve truly done everything you can do, weather conditions still can cause an ice dam. It might take a winter snowstorm that puts a foot of snow on your warm roof and refreezes it before you can rake it away, coupled with a day of radiant heat that creates a problem before you can respond.

Ice Dam Prevention Technique #1: Get the Snow Off Your Roof

If there is no snow on your roof then there is nothing to melt. This method of ice dam prevention denies ice dams the food they need to grow. Snow removal is the best way to prevent ice dams, and in many cases the most cost-effective and easiest way.

But to make it work you must stick with it.

You’ve got two choices: You can rake the snow off the roof yourself, or you can have it done professionally. (Yes, we offer .) We highly recommend roof snow removal if you do not have the time or inclination to remove the snow yourself. We also recommend it if you are a snowbird who doesn’t want to return from a toasty climate only to discover that an ice dam has destroyed your house.

Note on DIY rooftop snow removal vs. professional roof snow removal:

DIY snow removal isn’t a bad thing at all if you’re doing it right. Pick one made of plastic, or one that has small rollers or bumpers in the wheels to protect your shingles.

The most important thing is to remove the snow in layers, a bit at a time, and to start at the bottom of your roof, working your way up.

It isn’t hard.  But sometimes it can be tough to remove all the snow from your roof. If any snow remains, there is still a chance that an ice dam will form at the spot where you stopped raking. You shouldn’t do a partial job if you have a home that’s particularly prone to ice dams.

Ice dam removal is much more expensive than simple snow removal.  On the other hand, calling a snow removal company every time there’s a flurry is another good way to spend more than you’d like. The most ice-dam-resistant homeowners usually rake the bulk of the snow themselves, and only call us after major snowstorms to take care of snow buildup that’s just impractical to handle.

Ice Dam Prevention Technique #2: Make Your Hot Roof Cooler

You have to think about why your roof is hot in the first place. The answer is that heat escapes from the living spaces to your attic, where it gets bottled up.

To keep the heat where it belongs, you need to do several things:

  • Improve the insulation in your attic, to minimize the heat that enters the attic, and to absorb the rest as much as possible.
  • Improve the ventilation in your attic, so the heat can escape.
  • Look for places where heat is being sent directly to your attic, and either block or remove them.
  • We highly recommend that you get a home energy audit. Home energy professionals can tell you where you are losing the most heat. We also recommend having a roofer improve your insulation and ventilation. Also, check your bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans. Sometimes they vent directly into your attic, where they send a blast of heat to the roof.
  • Turning the heat down doesn’t hurt either.  Easy (if sometimes uncomfortable) way to cool off your attic and roof.

What if you have cathedral ceilings? They’ll need a lot more TLC. You’ll probably need to re-insulate the ceiling and/or have a contractor create an air barrier. When you have a cathedral ceiling there is very little buffer between the heat you’re using to warm your toes and the snow-melting, ice-dam-causing hot roof.

The best time to do all of this is during the summer months. It’s too late by the time Old Man Winter arrives. Yes, it will cost you some money. And no, shortcuts like attic fans won’t get you anywhere. Choose your pain: pay once and dramatically reduce your chances of getting ice dams, or pay for ice dam removal services repeatedly, possibly every winter.

Ice Dam Prevention Technique #3: Deal with Your Trees

Trees hanging over your roof can create all sorts of shady spots where ice dams can easily form. Remember: the melted-snow runoff refreezes when it hits the cold spot on your roof. Any shaded areas of your roof may be 5 to 15 degrees cooler than the rest of your roof.

You want the entire roof to match as closely as possible the temperature of the air outside. Not too hot, because you don’t want melting, and not too cold, because you don’t want to create places for melting snow to get refrozen

Ice Dam Prevention Technique #4: Get the Right Kind of Roof

Replacing your roof mays pare you from dealing with ice dams in the future. You can pursue one of two tactics.

One option is to get a standard asphalt roof, but ask your roofer to install ice and water shielding under the whole roof (or most of it), and not just under the small part of the roof that he’ll probably cover by default.

Ice and water shielding will notprevent ice dams. But it will keep water out of your home. If you don’t have a leak, you don’t have much of an ice dam problem (as long as the ice dam isn’t causing any structural damage). You may still want to get the snow removed if it becomes too heavy.  More than 2 feet of snow on your roof is a cause for concern.

The other option is to install a metal roof. Metal roofs prevent ice dams, because the ice has nothing to grip. They’re also less likely to leak.  Unlike a shingled roof, a metal roof does not provide hundreds of opportunities for water to work its way under shingles. If you want the closest thing to an ice-dam proof roof that money can buy, a metal roof is the way to go.

A Short List of Ice Dam Prevention “Solutions” That Do Not Work

If you’ve been paying attention, you know many of the solutions I’ve presented here cost time or money or both. In some cases, they’ll cost a lot of time, or a lot of money.

It’s at this point people begin desperately searching for a cheaper solution. The most common ones are heat cables, heated gutter guards, and salt pucks.

Heat cables do not work because they don’t have enough “juice” to remove all the snow. Instead, they melt just a little snow – just enough to refreeze somewhere else on your roof.

Gutter guards won’t help, because gutters do not cause ice dams. Even clogged gutters do not cause ice dams. Gutter guards actually make it harder for us to perform ice dam removal later. Heated gutter guards are the lovechild of two bad ideas: they melt just enough snow to make your ice dams worse, and the guards get in the way of our ice dam steamers.

Salt pucks. These are little hockey-puck or brick shaped blocks of salt that people throw on their roof. They do not prevent ice dams. They melt little holes in the ice, but they don’t melt enough snow to get the job done.  The salt damages and discolors your roof.  If you have a leak later, salt and perhaps nasty additives will leak into your home, compounding the water damage. The same is true of the salt-filled-pantyhose technique.

Ice Dam Prevention in a Nutshell

What causes ice dams?  Snow melting and refreezing.  How can ice dams be prevented?  By keeping the snow off your roof.

Don’t want to deal with a single one of our ice dam prevention suggestions? You can call us.  We’re not just an ice dam removal company: We also offer roof snow removal to all of Winnipeg and surrounding areas.

We can shovel the snow or (more likely) rake it from your roof; it just depends on your exact roof type and what’s the quickest, easiest, and safest way to remove the snow.  For larger commercial jobs, we may even use a snow blower.

With heavy winter snowfalls and frigid temperatures, it is common for snow and ice to accumulate on roofs in Winnipeg. When snow and ice accumulate on top of your roof, they can quickly become a hazard, especially along flat surfaces and seams, such as the chimney. Here are a few of the dangers snow and ice can potentially cause and why they’re so important to avoid.