Ice damming can damage structures that drain melting ice from your roof
Ice damming occurs when the sun has enough power in it (or in numerous cases, heat loss from within the building’s interior) to melt snow on a roof. Then, as the sun sets and the temperature drops it freezes again; usually at the eaves troughs, down pipes or in valleys of sloped roofs. Once frozen in these areas, the cycle repeats every time this melting occurs; the ‘ice dam’ is created and the chance of serious damages and /or leaking begins.
Commercial sloped roofs are typically much larger than residential roofs, therefore creating more of a concern as ice damming can be extremely costly when it destroys the roofs’ peripheral products such as eaves troughs, down pipes and structural components (basically, anything in the surrounding, affected areas). Ice damming also poses a huge liability issue for the owners or property managers due to these ‘icebergs’ hanging above as eventually, they will melt and /or break away.
Is there a solution? Yes! Building design is the best place to start by ensuring that roof valleys don’t come together that trap ice and snow, valleys that don’t terminate at the eaves above entrance ways or sidewalks, design overhangs deep enough to provide overhead protection for the public and property below and keep slopes steep enough so melt can flow away quicker, but not so steep that sliding ice and snow doesn’t create other issues. If your building is existing and you’re experiencing ice damming issues, then one possible solution is to install or have installed, heat tracing.
Heat tracing comes in a variety of options; 110v plug in, 110v plug with built-in temperature modules that only turn on when it gets cold enough to freeze. The commercial grade 110v and 220v versions that are hard wired into the electrical panel are the most effective and are installed by a licensed electrician.
So, if you’re building new, talk to your design team, as minor and proactive changes can make a huge difference in the long term. If you’re plagued with ice damming issues on existing buildings, talk to your roofing consultant or contractor as they can assist you with recommending the best suited option for mitigating it.