After the last snow event in Lees Summit, I went out into the neighborhood and snapped some pictures. This one shows how well a ridge vent works and is something your roofing contractor should install when you do need a new roof.
In a previous blog on ice dams, I identified that one of the ways to prevent ice dams was better roof and attic space venting. While this roof has an inadequate amount of ridge vent (typical of a hip roof), and is relatively low pitch (~4:12), it does show the effectiveness of ridge vents in our locale as the vent itself is completely clear and working well (and thus minimizing potential for ice dams). People tend to think that ridge vents will get blocked by snow, closing the vent and rendering them completely ineffective. However note that the snow is even coated on the roof, but the ridge vent remains completely clear. This is actually a GAF Cobra Snow Country Vent, but other roofing manufacturers have their own equivalent ridge vents that are comparable.
Now then, what if you see the ridge vent blocked? This would be a problem. Ridge vents are the exhaust vents, the intake vents or in the soffits, or roof overhangs. If there is insufficient intake venting, there is not going to be enough airflow out the ridge vent to keep it clear. Inadequate venting can lead to ice jam problems. In the picture, the ridge vent is accompanied by a continuous soffit vent which offers more than adequate airflow.
Again, following a snowstorm is a great opportunity to snap some pictures of your roof that will be valuable later when you need your roof replaced. Your roofing contractor won't see what snow patterns you have on your roof when they are replacing it in much more pleasant weather conditions, and you can share y our winter pictures with them.
After the last snow event in Lees Summit, I went out into the neighborhood and snapped some pictures. This picture shows a different solution to ice dams than I discussed previously, albeit not a solution your roofing contractor would probably recommend.
Recall earlier that I explained that ice dams form when snow melts over the heated area of your house, and re-freezes over the eaves (the edge of the roof that overhangs the wall)? This house provides a perfect illustration of this phenomenon as the roof is completely free of snow until you get to the eaves. And yet there is no ice dam or icicles forming, why is that and perhaps this is a solution that would work for me as well?
Obviously the snow melted on the roof, but the snow melted rapid enough and that provided sufficient water flow to prevent re-freezing when the melted snow hit the cold roof over the eaves. That is a lot of heat that is being lost into the framing space under their roof to melt the snow that fast. The water from the snowmelt was flowing like a relative torrent coming off that roof, and there was no chance that it would re-freeze even though the area of the roof that overhangs the wall was cold. Had the snowmelt and resulting water flow been slower, there was significant potential for ice dam to form.
While this homeowner doesn’t suffer from ice dam problems, the thought of the cost of their utility bill makes me shudder. If you have this sort of pattern of snow melt, your roofing contractor will probably want to anticipate that the heat loss problem might be solved during the life of the roof and recommend other solutions to prevent or minimize ice dams.
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