If you’ve recently moved to a house that has a flat roof, you’ve probably had to adjust your home maintenance routines accordingly. Flat roofs offer a number of advantages over pitched roofs, but they also require a more hands-on approach from homeowners.

With a pitched roof, the only regular task homeowners need to take care of themselves is cleaning gutters out during spring and fall. With a flat roof, you need to regularly make sure that the deck is clear of debris and the drainage system is working as it should — but at least you don’t have to deal with ice dams, right?

The truth is that ice dams aren’t just an issue for pitched roofs — they can form on any style of roof. If anything, the risk of ice damming is worse on flat roofs due to their unique design.  

How Ice Dams Form on Flat Roofs

All ice dams form in basically the same way: poor ventilation and insulation cause heat to rise from within the home, melting water in particular areas. This water then follows natural slopes toward the central drain or the gutters, but as it leaves the heated areas, it freezes. 

Over time, a dam builds up that traps water and keeps it from draining away as it should, leaving the roof vulnerable to leaks. If the ice dam builds up enough it can also cause the roof to sag unevenly, disrupting natural drainage flows and leading to bigger problems down the road. 

The key difference between ice dams on flat vs. pitched roofs is that on flat roofs the danger of ponding water is already much higher, and depending on where your drains are situated, the damage caused by ice damming can be significantly worse. 

What to Do If Your Flat Roof Has an Ice Dam 

If you have an ice dam, it is essential to hire a local roofing company that specializes in flat roof installation and repair to fix it properly before it does serious damage to the roof itself. Because flat roof ice dams form differently, different approaches are required to remove them and solve the underlying problems. 

When dealing with ice dams, most roofers will follow these steps:

  • Destroy the dam using a chemical melting agent that won’t damage the membrane
  • Install new vents
  • Enhance insulation
  • Replace and reinforce membranes in damaged areas

While flat roofs require more maintenance than pitched roofs do, the good news is that it’s also a lot easier and safer to take care of them — once you’re up, you don’t need to worry about sliding off any ice shingles. If your roof is suffering from an issue like ice damming, however, you should still get in touch with a roofing company that specializes in flat roofing and has the tools and expertise to melt the ice dam without damaging the membrane. Dealing with ice dams quickly and effectively will help extend the life of your roof and ensure your home stays comfortable through the winter months.

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Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


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