Preventing wintertime ice dams on your Tulsa-area home comes down to three things: temperature, insulation, and ventilation. If you can keep these three variables in mind, you can avoid ice dams and the damage they can cause. Your Oklahoma winter will be more enjoyable and you will avoid the possibility of water infiltration.
A roof should be the same temperature as the air surrounding it. A good way to judge this is by snow accumulation. If your roof is cold, the snow will not melt. If the snow does not melt, it cannot refreeze at the eaves, forming ice dams. Whatever the air temperature is, your roof must match it.
This means your daytime roof temperature may climb above freezing, and in the evening it may fall below freezing. But this natural cycle will not usually cause ice dams because the change is slow enough that the melt water runs into the gutters. It is the sudden change in temperature caused by poor attic insulation that causes the ice dam.
Four key areas in your attic need attention to prevent ice dams:
- Attic entryway—insulate the entrance to your attic so warm air from occupied spaces below does not migrate into the cold attic
- Ducts—Any air ducts in the attic must be sealed and insulated to prevent warm air escaping into the attic
- Chimney—The gap between house framing and chimney must be sealed with L-shaped metal flashing, held down with fireproof sealant. Spray foam is not suitable here
- Between joists—If you see the tops of your joists, you are insufficiently insulated
A properly insulated attic still needs ventilation, which means drawing outside air in and pushing attic air out. You can achieve this in several ways:
- Ventilate the eaves
- Ventilate the ridge
- Ensure kitchen and bath vents exhaust through the roof
You can consider forced ventilation, or rely on natural convection currents to move air into the soffit vents, up the underside of your roof, and out the ridge vents. This constant flow of air ensures warm air cannot build up in the attic.
You can also consider external products, such as gutter heaters or rooftop heater cables.
For professional help conquering ice dams, contact Perfection Roofing. We can check your attic and install ridge vents. We can also inspect your roof to see if the bottom three feet have ice shield under the shingles.