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Snow and Ice Dams on your Portland Roof

Posted January 11, 2009 by Patrick Morin
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No matter what the type, slope, or pitch of your roof, when it snows in Portland, Oregon it begins a chain of events that some roofs can’t handle. One of the events created as the snow begins to melt is an ice/snow dam.

This ice/snow dam can back the melting snow and ice from above like a dam pushing it past the fasteners. This is how the water finds its way into the attic and then your ceilings and walls. The valleys that collect and then direct your roof’s water drainage are critical areas. This is where dams usually happen. In addition, the skylight, chimney and diverter flashings can also be overwhelmed as snow mounds up and then begins to melt.

This can happen on all types of roofing material (Shakes, shingles, and tile). What the event is telling you is that your roof was not put on by Roof Life of Oregon. It’s telling you that your builder had a roof installed following a practice that works in normal conditions only. Barely code and then just enough to get by.

All of our roofs are designed/engineered and installed to keep you and your home dry not only in normal Oregon weather patterns but in the most extreme also. By systematically running an ice and water shield under all valley metal and installing the same weather barrier up the walls of all penetrations in the roof we stop all of the unwanted surprises that might come to you during the winter months.

I have to admit about 6 years ago Mother Nature threw even Roof Life a curveball. We take care of over 7000 roofs in the greater Portland area. All types and kinds of roofs make up our clientele. On this particular occasion, the wind was really strong out of the southeast and a cold front came in from the north and froze the rain into tiny little bee bees. The wind blew huge piles of snow and sleet into homeowner’s attics through their air vents. (Those small square metal vents on the back of your roof.) Almost everyone who in the past had weathered storms had a lot of melted snow causing severe sheetrock damage. Since then we always suggest ridge venting. The baffling in the ridge vent will not allow blow-by; protecting your home from a big repair bill!

So my purpose for writing this blog is? If in this type of weather you have a small to large leak it’s not unusual and it will go away as the snow/ice melts out of the valleys and flashings. It’s not as if you or we can do anything about it during a storm. Usually, when it happens we can’t reach your home due to the stormy roads. And you can’t climb on a frozen roof to clear the drains. These are the things that are addressed automatically when you have a Roof Life of Oregon roof installed. A lifetime transferable workmanship, no leak warranty brings you long term peace of mind.

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