Old Stone House

Damn Ice Dam

March 10, 2008

Filed under: Day to Day,Ugly Addition @ 8:26 am

damnice.jpgWell, it’s been a quiet couple of months since we finished the exterior of the ugly addition. Outside of the very occasional blog entry we’ve enjoyed NOT working on the house – taking advantage of some much needed down-time. We’ve avoided looking through home renovation magazines, surfing our favourite DIY sites, and thinking about the house in general. At least until this weekend…

This weekend we had yet another snowstorm – 40cm (16 inches) of blowing snow, and cold temperatures – apparently the recipe for disaster. Saturday morning I went downstairs to let the dog out, and the back door, the NEW back door wouldn’t open. I gave it a good tug and it swung free, and a deluge of water started running down the jamb. Closer inspection revealed that all of the new drywall around the door was soaking wet (door jamb buckling and warping out of shape), paint was blistering off the wall, the ceiling light had a dark damp stain forming around it, and water spots were appearing along the corners of the ceiling.

We are disheartened to say the least…

We’ve had water appear in this area before, and have struggled to figure out the origin of the problem. What we couldn’t determine was whether the water was originating at the ends of the soffits – where the valley on the roof drains to the area directly above the door – or elsewhere. We have seen huge ice build-ups over the door in winters past, and have noted that as the ice thaws, the water runs back under the soffit and down the face of the house – inevitably finding its way around the door. This fall’s renovation saw us replace all of the soffits, and completely seal the face of the house, as well as replace the eaves and down pipes. We hoped we had dealt with the problem.

However, such is not the case – the problem is elsewhere.

An inspection of the roof (in the snowstorm) revealed 5” of ice beneath two feet of snow – the ice being thickest about 6 feet up the roof. This discovery suggests that the problem is likely a lack of ventilation. The back room was winged-out decades ago to create a wider space, so the roof has two pitches – a set of gentle wings that extend outwards about seven feet from the peak. If these wings were set upon the original roof without any vents being added it means that hot air is becoming trapped and melting the snow to create ice. This ice is likely driving itself under the valley, melting, and running down the inside of the roof and draining over the door. Fun.

So, this means we are going to fix the roof this spring. Cost-wise this isn’t that prohibitive. We only need about 400 sq feet of shingles to completely re-roof the addition. Coupled with some plywood, ice shield and the other necessary sundries; we are likely looking at an $800 fix. We’re not happy about it, and I don’t look forward to it, but water damage kills the soul, and we need some salvation.

In the meantime, I smashed any ice I could reach off the roof with my 30lb spud bar, and salted the areas I couldn’t. 24 hrs later the water had stopped running.

It strikes me that we looked at those gutter heating cables just before winter arrived and decided to spend the $70 elsewhere. ~Sigh~.


  1. Well, the good news is at least you know where the problem lies and it is a fairly easy fix.

    Comment by Sandy — March 10, 2008 @ 10:03 am

  2. How frustrating! Good that you know how to fix it, though.

    Comment by jennifer — March 11, 2008 @ 9:21 am

  3. Nothing, NOTHING, is more disheartening then water…


    Comment by Oldstonehouse — March 11, 2008 @ 9:27 am

  4. We just reroofed our house (only 5 years after the first time). We had a problem area that was much the same. Not only did we have ice dams running a long way up the roof but the ice formed high enough to come down behind the counter flashing and the step flashing. I’m not sure if there is step flashing involved in your roof, but if there is, I’d look into something called a reglet joint. This was the winter to test all roofs and ours has finally come through a whole winter with nary a leak.

    Comment by S_N — March 17, 2008 @ 9:35 pm

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