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Winter Roofing Issues

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ICE DAMS - The most common problem in cold weather is the presence of ice dams. Since ice dams are most often discovered in the winter when conditions are unfavorable for roofing, most people need a quick fix until something more permanent can be effected. The problem is, there is seldom a quick fix for ice dams. You can try calcium chloride or rock salt to melt the ice. If you use a mechanical means to remove it (chisels, picks, etc.), you're probably going to damage the roof. Most people do. You might also try the use of heat tape (a.k.a. heat cable) which can often be purchased at a hardware store. You must know, however, that fires have started because of heat tape so be sure your smoke alarms are working and review your homeowner's insurance policy. There are a lot of heat tape products which have never caused problems, however. Stay away from the cheaper products. Get something thermostatically controlled and made from heavy gage wire.

For information on ice dams and how to solve them, visit the RoofHelp Library.

ROOFING - People often question whether or not they can roof in cold weather. You can roof in cold, DRY weather but the quality of the finished product can be adversely affected. Most manufacturers of all roofing types have specific requirements about what temperatures their materials can be installed in. For the most part, the temperature is 40 degrees or more. It is possible to install roofs in temperatures less than 40 but extra precautions are needed. For instance, hot roofers need to make sure they aren't mopping too far ahead of the rolls. EDPM roofers need to make sure their adhesive isn't freezing. Composition shingle roofers have to be real careful that they aren't damaging the shingles when nailing them. All steep slope roofers have to be careful that they don't damage the underlayment which can become brittle in cold weather.

CONDENSATION - Condensation is also a major winter issue. Condensation occurs when warm, moist air hits a cold surface, i.e. air from your house's interior hitting the bottom side of the cold roof deck. The solution is to install a vapor retarder at the ceiling level, trapping the warm air and not allowing it to get to the bottom of the roof deck, and/or providing adequate ventilation. Neither are simple, quick solutions. If you have a CATHEDRAL CEILING, then your problems are generally even more complex and expensive to fix because you may have to replace all the existing insulation with insulation specifically designed for cathedral ceilings, or you may have to install baffles in order to provide an air space to allow proper venting. Either way will involve demolition of the ceiling or the roof in order to get at the insulation.




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