One of the most consistent and frustrating roofing issues is ice build-up during the colder months.
The main issues tend to be huge icicles hanging and putting pressure on your roof components or, in the worst situations, extensive ice damming that causes unseen damage. These ice build-ups can cause leaks and moisture issues on the inside of your home or cottage, which could lead to rot, mould, and other concerns.
Once the damage has gone too far, it will often require taking everything apart and building a new roofing system, explains Mike Vettese of GBS Contracting Services.
“However, if we catch it in time, we can often make adjustments to fix the issues causing the ice build-up,” says Mike.
Most of the time, adding proper ventilation, more insulation, or a combination of these can fix the issue.
However, the icicles and ice dams could also be caused by poor construction techniques, especially on homes with a “hot roof” system.
In a conventional peaked roof, Mike explains, the insulation sits right above the ceiling, with the attic space above that. With sufficient ventilation, the attic and the roof are cold in winter. Hot roofs, on the other hand, are usually built when the home has a flat roof. In these cases, the insulation is installed directly underneath the decking. A hot roof is also used when converting an attic into living space.
While these types of roofs don’t necessarily need ventilation, moisture control is vital: they need an air and vapour control layer or vapour barrier on the warm side of the insulation to prevent ice and moisture issues from occurring.
“If a vapour barrier isn’t properly installed, there could be all kinds of moisture issues happening on a hot roof,” warns Mike. “When we find a hot roof with moisture issues, the first thing we look for is a vapour barrier … and if they don’t have one, then we need to find the best way to fix the issue.”
The most obvious is adding a vapour barrier, but that may require removing shingles or other materials to do so, which then involves building a new roof.
The other way is to build a “roof on a roof” which adds a great deal of ventilation and prevents build-up and moisture issues.
“Really, the best way to handle it is by getting into the nitty gritty and doing the vapour barrier,” says Mike. “Which should have been done the first time the roof was built.”
Flat roofing membrane
When it’s built properly, a flat roof can provide an amazing deck space. If there’s going to be foot traffic on your roof, Mike says the Dec-Tec PVC membrane system is the best way to protect and beautify the space.
It’s the only membrane certified for roofing. When professionally installed, it should last 25 to 30 years.
GBS has used this application for a range of balconies and upper-level decks throughout Muskoka and beyond. It’s the most expensive membrane, but it’s worth the cost and should be on all boathouse rooftops, says Mike.
Dec-Tec does not require planks or a deck above the membrane; when heat welded at 2,000-degrees Celsius on top of good plywood to create a seamless seal, it becomes the deck. The product is safe and durable and has been tested to withstand all seasonal weather conditions in Canada.
The slip-resistant, waterproof, fire-resistant, and low maintenance membrane is available in an array of colour and design options – from classic Muskoka looks that mimic granite, cedar planks or redwood, to modern options like ivory and oak.
No matter the type of roofing project, the only way to ensure the job will be done right is having an expert team do the installation.
Hiring certified, insured, and experienced professionals should be the standard for all construction projects – not only roofing.
GBS Contracting Services has been in business since 1999 and are experts at roofing, siding, and more.
Their team is fully insured, fully trained, and dedicated to the business. Mike says they happily provide references to their clients. They often get called back to do additional work because the client is so happy with the first project.
“We work and live in the areas we service,” says Mike. “We understand our clients’ needs and how to properly build structures that will work well under the environmental pressures in our region.”
TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN