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Tips for Preventing Ice Dams & Drafty Windows

09 November 2019

Our team answers homeowner questions every weekend on WCCO 830 AM from 9:00 am-10:00 am.  Have your most pressing home improvement questions addressed by calling or texting 651-989-9226.  Here’s the must-know information our COO, Andy Lindus, shared on 11.9.19.

Ice dams are the result of inadequate insulation and ventilation.  Story and half homes are one architectural style that’s tricky to insulate and ventilate.  While it’s not the cheapest approach, three inch foam over the roof decking and then installing a metal roof over the top can provide the best long-term results.  It’s worth noting that metal roofing is notorious for rapidly shedding snow.  For the safety of pedestrians walking near the home, it’s wise to have snow bars installed in high traffic areas.

hot roof

A common misnomer among homeowners is if they have a new roof installed, there’s no way for ice dams to form on their roof.  In actuality, a new roof can easily have between 15,000 and 20,000 nails in it.  Shingles are designed to shed water.  If your roof has an ice dam that’s holding water up on your roof and not allowing it to exit, going against the grain of the shingles, leaking will ensue, regardless of the age of the roof.  The only way to address this scenario is through proper ventilation and insulation.  Be wary of any contractor that isn’t inspecting your attic prior to supplying a quote for your roofing project.  Another roofing contractor red flag is if a contractor suggests heat cables on a roof can act as a permanent ice dam solution.  While it’s possible for heat cables to provide a channel for water from an ice dam to escape a roof, the heating cable does not attack the root cause of an ice dam.


It’s worth noting that a metal roof is easier to install in the winter because there are no exposed fasteners that must be sealed.  Asphalt shingles can still be installed in cold weather, but extra precautions, such as hand sealing, must be taken to ensure that the roof lays correctly.  This makes the process longer in the winter than it is during the summer months.

The energy efficiency properties of home windows have continued to evolve as manufacturing technology continues to improve.  The advantage for homeowners is that window warranties are the best they’ve ever been.  It’s not uncommon to have iron-clad warranties that cover the window materials, glass packages, and all moving parts.  When interviewing perspective window replacement companies, it’s important to understand whether they will be using full frame window replacement or insert.  When insert replacement is completed, only the sash of the window is replaced.  This sacrifices two inches of glass space when you’re putting in the new window because you’re shrinking the actual opening when you’re leaving the existing frame in place.  Insert window replacement fails to address any rotten wood around the edge of the window frame, which will only get more expensive to fix as time passes.  Air infiltration also cannot be corrected with insert window replacement.  Exercise extreme caution with any window replacement contractor that insists that all a home’s windows must be replaced at the same time, as it is commonplace for this type of a project to be completed in phases.

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