Image of icicles and snow covered roof - ice dams on vinyl roof decks - Econodek

Dealing with Ice Dams on/above Vinyl Roof Decks

Winter is here or just around the corner, with that comes the fun of accumulations of snow on and above vinyl roof decks. If you’ve had issues with ice dams (or are expecting them), Tuff Industries has some suggestions.

#1: Understand the Causes of Ice Dams

Before you can deal with ice dams, you have to understand how they start. Essentially, ice dams happen with snow melts, freezes, and then refreezes before it can drain off the roof or vinyl roof deck.

Once that first line of snow freezes into ice, it starts to back up along the roof line. Each subsequent snowfall will lead to more melt and more ice. The downside is that the water can get pushed under shingles, shakes, or a vinyl membrane and cause damage to the structure that protects your home.

Unfortunately, if there’s already an ice dam developing, it can be difficult to fix without causing more damage. But you can take steps to reduce the problem over the winter so you can fix it in the spring.

#2: Check Inside for Sources of Ice Dams

The primary cause of ice dams under a roof or vinyl roof deck is heat. The heat melts the snow, but as the snow reaches the edge of the roofline it refreezes. The cause of the escaping heat is usually due to a lack of proper insulation in an attic or underneath a vinyl roof deck. By improving insulation in ceilings and attics you can prevent warm air from escaping as easily. In turn, this improvement can reduce your heating bill over the winter.

#3: Review the Exterior

Clean gutters help your roof system to remove water from the roof and vinyl roof decks during the winter, so make sure they are clean. Home improvement stores also overheating cables that can be placed on roof edges to encourage snow to melt if ice dams are a common problem on your roof.

#4: Avoid Damage to Vinyl Roof Deck

If you have an ice dam, avoid pulling it out as this could damage anything it’s frozen too. The last thing you want to do is damage your vinyl roof deck, shingles, or the structure itself. However, there are a few things you can do to prevent the dam from becoming worse.

For ice dams that are well developed, tarp off underneath so falling ice won’t damage your vinyl membrane. Also, avoid walking underneath! You can help encourage ice to melt by using de-icer, just make sure that it doesn’t spend too much time in contact with your deck.

#5: Help with Melt

When the far side of winter is in sight and the temperature warms, you can help ice dams melt by using a hose.  Alternatively, you can choose to place a long-term de-icer on your roof (but not your vinyl roof deck) by filling pantyhose with calcium chloride and placing each leg perpendicular and slightly overhanging the roof line. The de-icer will melt the snow and provide channels for water to exit the roof.

#6: Check Vinyl Roof Decks

After an ice dam situation, you’ll want to thoroughly check over your vinyl roof deck and roof for damage. You’ll also want to take steps to prevent ice dams from forming the future. You might consider replacing a damaged vinyl membrane for better protection next year.