Roof ice dams & steel roofs

When I was young, I remember my parents house always had problems with ice dams in the winter. The roof was asphalt shingles, and had no overhang, except for a rain gutter. I remember several times water would start to drip inside the house, and then my father and me would be up on a ladder pouring boiling water on them to break them up, while mom was having a panic attack in the house. Eventually he bought some electric coils that helped, but were not a complete solution.
I've known this to be a problem for other people too, although the houses that have a decent overhang (at least one foot), seem to have less problems with this.
These days, more roofs are being covered with steel roofing, rather than shingles. I've used it on unheated barns and sheds, but not on a house. I'm wondering if ice dams are as much of a problem on steel roofs? Obviously, there are still joints between the sheets of steel, and water could get in at those joints. Yet, the steel is more slippery and ice/snow tends to fall off more than on asphalt shingles.
I'll mention that on my barn, several years ago, I did get a buildup of snow, then some warm weather caused the upper portion of the snow to melt, and an ice dam did occur at the lower edge. The nice thing about the steel roof, in a barn with no ceiling below it, is that I just took a 2x4 and banged the underside of the steel, and the chunks of ice broke apart. Then a long pole was used to pull them down.
One other thing I should mention in this regard, is that a local business had a large steel roof, which was above a parking lot. Several years ago, there was a warm spell during the winter, and a huge block of ice and snow fell, and actually destroyed a few cars parked below, (including the car belonging to the owner of the building).
This indicates that the steel roofs have problems of their own, but I wonder if the ice dams are less of a problem on a heated home?
I've also seen that they sell these plastic things that attach to the steel roofs that are supposed to keep the ice from falling. I'm not sure if that's a good idea or not. Plus those things look flimsy....
I'm looking for opinions based on what others have experienced. I'd much prefer to use a steel roof when I build my small house. It costs more, but has a much longer life span, and is more durable, not to mention is much easier to install than shingles.
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Ten years of experience with my first metal roof on a new house gives the roof an "A" in spite of a problem three years ago with ice dams and a leak. We average almost 70 inches of snow each winter. As you say so well -- it's the overhangs that matter. I've only had a problem on the one side where there is no overhang even though we put a layer of something called "Ice Guard" under the metal roofing material. "Ice Guard" is a flexible sticky rubber membrane that self seals and we installed it from the roof edge to about 3 feet up; but the water, I think, got in right at the edge where the gutter meets the roof. Anyway, we added gutter heaters and have had no more problems.
We did put on the cleats (ours were metal) to keep the ice from sliding off and they've been fine with just an epoxy glue to hold them in place.
The roof itself is trouble free. Nothing has rusted, deteriorated or come loose, it's quiet (we thought rain noise might be a problem) and has maintained a light color which reflects the summer sun heat. It's also self cleaning. One of the reasons, I chose it is because it's easy to mount clamps and brackets to the standing seams and then mount solar cells without punching holes in the roof itself. We haven't done the solar thing as yet, but I see such installations becoming common in the area.
Tomsic
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Thanks for the reply. I think you covered all I wanted to know, and more..... That "Ice Guard" seems like a good investment and I can see how that would assist with any water that might get under the metal. I was not aware they made anything like that.
The steel roof on my barn is just the steel screwed to 2x4s. It's really not that noisy for rain, but hail is another story!!! But it's a barn, and the animals get used to it.
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wrote in message
When I was young, I remember my parents house always had problems with ice dams in the winter. The roof was asphalt shingles, and had no overhang, except for a rain gutter. I remember several times water would start to drip inside the house, and then my father and me would be up on a ladder pouring boiling water on them to break them up, while mom was having a panic attack in the house. Eventually he bought some electric coils that helped, but were not a complete solution.
I've known this to be a problem for other people too, although the houses that have a decent overhang (at least one foot), seem to have less problems with this.
These days, more roofs are being covered with steel roofing, rather than shingles. I've used it on unheated barns and sheds, but not on a house. I'm wondering if ice dams are as much of a problem on steel roofs? Obviously, there are still joints between the sheets of steel, and water could get in at those joints. Yet, the steel is more slippery and ice/snow tends to fall off more than on asphalt shingles.
I'll mention that on my barn, several years ago, I did get a buildup of snow, then some warm weather caused the upper portion of the snow to melt, and an ice dam did occur at the lower edge. The nice thing about the steel roof, in a barn with no ceiling below it, is that I just took a 2x4 and banged the underside of the steel, and the chunks of ice broke apart. Then a long pole was used to pull them down.
One other thing I should mention in this regard, is that a local business had a large steel roof, which was above a parking lot. Several years ago, there was a warm spell during the winter, and a huge block of ice and snow fell, and actually destroyed a few cars parked below, (including the car belonging to the owner of the building).
This indicates that the steel roofs have problems of their own, but I wonder if the ice dams are less of a problem on a heated home?
I've also seen that they sell these plastic things that attach to the steel roofs that are supposed to keep the ice from falling. I'm not sure if that's a good idea or not. Plus those things look flimsy....
I'm looking for opinions based on what others have experienced. I'd much prefer to use a steel roof when I build my small house. It costs more, but has a much longer life span, and is more durable, not to mention is much easier to install than shingles.
Lived in Colorado mountains for 13 years. High altitude (10000) feet. Average snowfall at 300 inches a year. House had shingled roof. Problem with ice dams and leaks from them. No gutters were used in that area because of freeze up. I stripped the roofing off and left the tar paper. House was 40 feet long and A frame type roof. Front required 16 foot pieces and rear required 20 foot pieces. This was a five twelve pitch. Installed steel Pro Panel type. This solved the leaks. When the snow built up to 2 or 3 feet, I used a T setup (10 feet of 1/2 inch metal conduit and a 3 foot 2 x 4..I would reach up and pull off snow about 2 or 3 feet of the edge snow. It would come off easy. In a day or 2 the rest would slide to the edge and I would repeat the removal again. Never had a snow slide because temps would be below zero most nights. Did the entire job in 3 days. WW
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wrote:

The "complete solution" to ice dams is proper insulation and ventilation. The idea is to keep the roof the same temperature as the air. "Ice shield" is in insurance.

"Standing seam" roofing has ridges on/between the seams. It would take a hell of an ice dam to breach the seam. Again, the real solution is to keep the roof deck the same temperature as the outside air. This is even easier with a metal roof.

Was it leaking between horizontal seams or vertical? It shouldn't have leaked at all, but my guess is that your barn is quite a bit warmer than the outside air.

That's not uncommon. In Vermont, there were signs advising people that " parking here" was dangerous. In some places they put up barricades where ice was known to fall.

Properly insulated, there should be no problems with ice.

It probably is a good idea above your porch/sidewalk. Your insurance company might appreciate them. ;-) OTOH, you've admitted that you know it's a problem. :-(

It's harder to install right. A monkey can (and usually does) install shingles.

Sounds like your insulation/ventilation wasn't up to snuff.
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On Jan 4, 6:53am, snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote:

insulation/ventilation issues. Keep the roof uniformly cold and you'll seldom get ice dams.
The real killer is a cold over hang area & an "upstream" roof area that "leaks" heat from the house / attic.
Cutesy architectural features are a problem as well. :(
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It's harder to install right. A monkey can (and usually does) install shingles.

Sounds like your insulation/ventilation wasn't up to snuff.
You are right. I was 2nd owner of house. When I installed the sheets the set up had a cap on the peak that allowed the air to rise up the ribs on the sheets and vent out the ends. This kept the roof cold. WW
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On Jan 4, 8:53am, snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote:

A weird thought passed my mind - would steel roofs have any advantage to getting a coat of automotive wax in late fall/early winter? I was just thinking of how much better cars shed water when waxed.
And speaking of that I've seen steel roofs with overhanging oak trees that get bad cases of mildew & grime. How would one get nasty stuff like that off the steel?
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snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote in

Not in every case. You must not live in the north.
<snip>
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