Damned ice dam

Damned ice dam

: I just spent the last two nights on a roof banging at ice-filled gutters on the roof above because ice is backing up under the roof and melting and dripping and driving us crazy: Jersey water torture. I hate heights. So I feared falling; I feared huge hunks of ice and gutter falling on my head; and because I fear looking like a dork, I refused my wife’s suggestion that I wear a bike helmet. And now it’s snowing again. Call me when winter’s over.

Should I consider a metal roof?

  • too many steves

    Jeff: the cheaper and less expensive solution involves insulation. The likely source of the problem is that heat from your house is reaching the underside of the roof nearest the edge. Often this means the insulation, if it exists, was not installed properly, i.e.; all the way to the edge where the roof meets the wall. The flatter the pitch of your roof the more likely this is the case because a relatively flat roof would make it harder to stuff insulation into that space.

  • Mumblix Grumph

    My Aunt lives on a lake near the mountains. This brings in high winds that used to tear up the shingles like crazy.
    She opted for a metal roof and it works and looks great. (It doesn’t look like a Quonset hut)
    It’s kinda expensive, but apparently worth it. It came with a lifetime warranty.
    All in all, I’d say go for it.

  • J. Peden

    People are always falling off ladders and roofs and dying. So think first of yourself. Send your wife up. [kidding] And, “I fought the ice, and the ice won.”
    Ice dams are not necessarily a problem unless you get leaks, but you might get roof damage from dams, depending.
    Insulation can work, but sometimes doesn’t.
    Ice-dam heating wires can be installed, like pipe freeze preventors.
    Probably other simple solutions exist.
    If you have a wood shake roof, consider getting rid of it – big fire hazzard. Sounds like you don’t.

  • jim linnane

    Get a roof rake. After every snowfall, rake off the snow on the lower portion of the roof. If ice dams have started to form, gently use the rake to break them up. Better insulation is helpful, but sun melts snow even on the coldest days and as the meltwater reaches the cold air at the edge of the roof it freezes and you get an ice dam. Also important to clean gutters in the autumn. If the gutters and downspouts are full of leaves, the meltwater is not going to go anywhere. Also, not to be too nannyish, be careful the roof rake does not touch wires. Roof rakes are usually made of aluminium which is an excellent conductor.

  • Roy Lofquist

    Dear Mr. Jarvis,
    Florida is lovely.

  • Palolo lolo

    It’s lovely in Honolulu these days-80 during the day and 65 at night. Might be some rain ahead,though.But NO shoveling,no scraping windshields,no snowtires and no ice problems!

  • Florida is lovely.
    didn’t you folks have a few weather-related problems of your own a few months ago?

  • AJ

    My dad installed some heating wires in the gutters himself. If he could do it, I’m pretty sure anyone could. Jeff, email me if you’re interested in details.

  • Yes, get a metal roof. Find an architect to help you design what you need. We are worth the money….trust me.

  • spongeworthy

    Metal roofs are great but they can be noisy in the rain. Since we don’t have many hailstorms in New Jersey that clatter is unlikely.
    Of course with all your Crazy Blog Money rolling in, maybe you can afford copper!

  • annette

    go for the metal roof and a hockey helmet. or move to phoenix.

  • pm

    Dork is the new hunk. Embrace it.

  • growler

    A show called The House Detective on HGTV had an episode recently about a woman who had spent thousands on new roofs, but still water seeped in during certain weather conditions. I think she might have had too much insulation. Anyways, the solution was to install soffits below the eaves to keep the attic ventilated.
    If your house already has vents, you might check to see if they’re blocked. Google will give you lots of hits on “blocked attic ventilation.”

  • Luciferous

    Good (and funny) suggestions all. Another to consider: remove the gutters. Whether this is practical for your home depends on how the house is built. Mine is constructed so it does not need guttering, a real boon year round – no clogs, no leaves to remove, no ice-dams, and no high altitude antics to perform. Just another possibility for you to consider. Best.

  • My landlord put the heating wires in the gutters last year after we had pretty bad leaking into our apartment. So far, so good.

  • God is punishing you for your Howard Stern fixation.

  • Attach a hose to the faucet of a utility sink inside the house. Turn on the hot water and run hot water into the gutters. I did this when an ice dam was forming — not easy work either but it was completely successful. Just takes a bit of patience.

  • paul a’barge

    “Metal roofs are great but they can be noisy in the rain”
    Metal roofs are noisy (some of us like this) if they are put on as the original roof (or to replace an original metal roof), in which case the roof is probably not “decked.”
    If you don’t have a metal roof, and your roofs have all been composition shingle, the roof will be decked with plywood sheets. Metal roofs go right over roof decking and you can’t hear them when it rains.
    Metal however is not going to prevent water from freezing on your roof. Metal roofs last from 2X to 10X longer than composition shingle, but they’re leak-proof only if done by a real metal roof expert.
    Since metal roofs are uncommon in NJ, you will want to find a roofer who has installed a butt-load of metal roofs, and knows what he’s doing, and has been in business long enough for his guarantee to be meaningful.
    Try looking for articles on roof freezing in the online magazines of shows like “This Old House.” They will have the best solution for you.
    In short, get a metal roof for its longevity and beauty (they’re not all silver) and insulation capacity and strength and while you’re at it, fix that roof freezing problem with the right fix.

  • Joe

    Roofing was improperly installed, there should be a mastic layer 4 feet from edge under roofing were ice damming is possible.

  • Joe

    Roofing was improperly installed, there should be a mastic layer 4 feet from edge under roofing were ice damming is possible.