It's no secret that your roof is constantly at war with the elements, and winter weather can be especially damaging when it comes to freezing and melting snow. Since we at My-Pros operate in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin, we are very familiar harsh and unpredictable winters and understand the importance of a product like ice and water shield better than most. So we thought we'd use this post to explain to you why ice and water shield is an essential part of your roofing system.
Before we can explain to you what ice and water shield is, you need to know about one of your roof's biggest enemies: ice dams. Ice dams are buildups of ice, snow, and water that congregate at the edges of your roof as a result of cycles of melting and freezing. Contrary to what you might expect, the snow on the highest parts of your roof tends to melt first because the heat from within your home tends to rise to the center of your roof. That melted snow would run off of your roof if not for the fact that the ice on the edges of your roof does not tend to melt as quickly. Thus, the melted snow from the top of your roof is trapped by the unmelted snow on the edges of your roof, forming an ice dam.
Now you may be saying to yourself, “So what? What's wrong with ice damming up on the edges of my roof?” If you don't have ice and water shield, then the answer to that question is going to be a costly one. For as ice begins to dam up on the edges of your roof, the excess water caught by the ice dam has nowhere to go but back beneath the roof's shingles. There the water could potentially leak into creases and holes left by nails leading to moldy and damaged ceilings in your home. Obviously, you should avoid this at all costs!
Ice and water shield is an essential solution to your ice damming problems, so essential in fact that building codes require it in many northern states, including Illinois and Wisconsin. What makes it so essential is the fact that it neutralizes the threat of water leaking into your home by forming a waterproof barrier beneath your roof's shingles. A particularly helpful aspect of ice and water shield is that it self-seals like a tire whenever a nail punctures it. So you never have to worry about water sneaking through nail holes when you're protected by ice and water shield!
Building codes typically require that ice and water shield be installed along the gutter line and in the valleys of your roof, which are areas particularly susceptible to ice damming. For areas along the gutters, ice and water shield should be installed at least two feet past the interior wall of your home to cover the area most susceptible to ice damming. Although these are the only areas building codes require, they aren't the only places that need ice and water shield. My-Pros recommends that ice and water shield also be installed around any area where something juts up through the roof, such as chimneys, wind turbines, skylights, and any spot where a second story wall meets a first story roof. You should not let your contractor install ice and water shield without covering these particularly susceptible areas.
Although ice and water shield is relatively easy to install on your own, it is best to leave it to the professionals due to the risk of bubbling. Ice and water shield is like a sticker and needs to be laid down flat so that the material doesn't bubble up from the roof. Otherwise, the protection may not be as effective. It also won't be effective if laid on plywood that is wet or dirty. A professional contractor will be able to prevent these complications and make sure you get the most out of your ice and water shield.