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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ice Dams and Leak Protection

Not to be confused with black ice or any other type of ice, we might see some Damn ice dams. With freezing precipitation entering the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex tonight we could see those once every couple of years leaks.

When I was in college, in 1978 0r 1979, Ed Petersen and I took advantage of the bad ice storm to make a little beer money by freezing our tails off.

An ice storm, with black ice, had shut down everything from McKinney to Desoto. The trees were dropping ice laden limbs on roofs with crushing force causing damage everywhere. We went out removing and pulling down dangerous limbs when no one else would. Boy were we nuts.

Frozen fingers and wet red toes gathered us a few hundred bucks each over two days of door knocking and ladder climbing. Then the real disaster hit.

The temperature neared thaw conditions and the ice began to melt over the homes but refrozen on the overhands. Near but not frozen water piled up behind these temporary ice dams and water was pouring into many homes on the outside walls, especially at the base of valleys.

We had purchased 500 fliers and had spread all of them as we removed limbs. Immediately we received some repeat customers as well as a few new ones. i knew what to do.

We didn't need to scale the roof every time because we had purchased some very long two by fours that we beat against the ice while standing on the ground. But it didn't work every time. On our last customer, or victim if you choose, the ice was fiercely resistant to the pounding so I put the ladder on the edge of the roof and dug it out a little with my shovel. The leak immediately stopped on the inside because all the water was in my underwear and socks. Thinking I had only moments to live, I asked Ed to go collect our $150.00 while I head to the car in my death throws.

The homeowner was upset that we charged that and only worked ten minutes. Ed explained there was no time to argue about the price after the fact because if he didn't hurry he could be charged with manslaughter.

We rushed to the liquor store to buy life saving elixir and pain killer. I considered asking Ed to chop of my feet but couldn't talk because of the uncontrolled chattering of my teeth. I never knew numbness could hurt so much.

Back them I had never heard of leak barriers but roofers in the north were required to use it on overhangs. These products are sticky rubber like material that are stuck right to the deck and act as a waterproof lining that also gaskets the nails. We have that option today with products like GAF StormGuard and Weather Watch, CertainTeed WinterGuard, Grace Ice and Water Shield, WeatherGuard, and Tamko's Tile and Metal Underlayment, that will stop this phenomena. The lower the slope of your roof the grater the danger and the larger the volume of water will be if leaks occur due to ice damming.

Imagine the roof at a side view like an architect would draw. The lower the slope is the further up the roof a few inches of water will go. That's why the manufacturers require that the leak protection go two feet past the warm wall, the area past the climate controlled area. That includes porches too.

In no way is the entire deck to be covered because this stuff does not breathe. Your home will become a wet mildewed mess. These products are designed for leak prone areas like chimneys, skylights, stacks, roof to wall, and overhangs. They are not designed to help bad roofers keep water out. There purpose is to help in those extreme conditions when gravity is not enough to keep the water out. Monsoons, wind driven rain, and ice dams can render the "turning of water" or 'shingle effect" insufficient for gravity based roof systems and require the usage of the other two forms of waterproofing: sealing like a flat roof or caulk and compression like a cork. These products act as a seal under the shingles and the nails are like corks where they penetrate the membrane for the shingles.

Properly used there are other benefits. The overhang will need to be painted less often and less carpentry maintenance will be need if they are installed properly. That means putting the product over the metal edge on the eaves where the water runs off and over the metal edge on the rakes where the water is running parallel to the metal edge and the roof is going up or down, depending on your point of view.

That reminds me of one of the great philosophical questions of all time: is the glass half full or is it half empty. An old boy from west Texas figured this out without the help of String Theory or Quantum Physics. When posed with the conundrum he responded with the skill of an ancient Sophist from Attica, the people that gave their names to attics after they invented the western model of the gable roof: Why it depends on which away it was agoing when it got to where it's at.

When he ended his sentence with a preposition, the interviewer, who happened to be a Harvard graduate, remarked that you should not end a sentence with a preposition. The Texan then said "Let me rephrase that. Why it depends on which away it was agoing when it got to where it's at, arse-xxx.
Churchill responded to the same claim from an editor who had redacted one of his postings during the Great War II: Why that is something up with which I shall not put.

A roofer is not expected to be a professional linguist in the model of William F. Buckley, yet, if he can't perform basic language skills, said roofer cannot possible have read the volumes of literature necessary to be a truly professional roofer. The need to absorb volumes of information in conjunction with hands on experience makes finding a qualified roofer to protect your home from the extremest of conditions a daunting task. There are not too many individuals wiling to work hard physically and study the necessary material to achieve this plateau. You need not look and try to find out who the Sensei are yourself because the roofing manufacturers have done it for you.

These massive companies like GAF and CertainTeed have knighted the best minds and most experience among the trade with titles like Master elite and Master Roofer and allowed them to offer greatly enhanced material and labor warranties that can even have leak guarantees from the factory.

The other missing trait in the installation part of the roofing trade is ethics. Few, if any, have read Nicomachean Ethics or even understand the difference between ethics and moral and the connection between the two. There is also the debate between the beautiful versus the useful, which must be addressed when selecting a roof type. Many contractors have installed designer shingles on a lower pitch, have not six nailed steeper roofs, and have failed to follow even the most basic of ventilation rules.

Those homes that do not have at least a bottom to top ventilation system based on the minimum "300 Rule of Ventilation," which is adequate here in North Texas, and have no interference between the roof ventilator ans soffit intake, like gable end vents or mid system exhaust vents that short circuit the chimney or soda straw effect, are much more likely to experience ice dam leaks this weekend.

if the snow piles up on your roof you have the chance to go outside when the temperature nears melting, as I pointed out a few blogs back, and see if your ventilation and insulation are coordinated to keep this disastrous ice dam leakage from occurring.

At 53 1/2 trips around the sun I'm not likely to knock on your door and get drenched like I was when I was 20 years old.

Jon Alan Wright

Jon Wright Roofing, Siding, and Windows

1915 Peters Rd., Suite 310

Irving, TX 75061

972.251.1818 Office

214.718.3748 Cell

972.554.8090 Fax

Master Elite Roofer: (Scroll to the bottom)

1 comment:

Staten Island Roofing said...

Leaky attics can cause a dangerous winter for you and your family. This will cause an unbalance in temperature and ventilation through your roof.

-Keystone Contracting Corp.