Preventing Ice Dams on Storage Buildings

Preventing Ice Dams on Storage Buildings

December 9, 2019 Steve Hajewski

In most of the country including here in Wisconsin, winter is here. And with that comes the annual discussion that we all have. No, I don’t mean the one where we question why we live in Wisconsin. And no, not the one where we discuss how old Aaron Rogers is getting but dang the guy still throws like a champ.

I’m talking about ice dams.

So, what is an ice dam for those fortunate enough to have not had to think about it? An ice dam is formed when water coming off the roof freezes, builds up, and creates a pool of water.

The best way to deal with an ice dam is to not create one in the first place. When you get an ice dam on your home, it’s typically a sign that your don’t have enough insulation. Heat from the home melts snow or ice on the roof over the heated area, but when that water hits the building’s overhang with no heat source underneath, it freezes.

In a self-storage project, overhangs are generally very small. But a similar situation can be created when you have a partially climate-controlled building. If your building has a climate-controlled portion where rooftop over the heated units sheds water towards unheated units, that water can freeze when it hits the unheated roof area. If you must design a building this way, it should be well-insulated. But a better option is to lay out the building with a lean-to roof as to not create this condition.

Trachte’s self-storage buildings normally are most commonly built with standing seam roofs – this roof design has few or no screw holes over the building interior which greatly reduces the chances of leaks. But an additional situation to watch for is ice clogged gutters. At Trachte we advise customers to avoid gutters. They create maintenance and don’t increase your rental income.

But if you DO have them and they are clogged, they can trap water and create a condition where it can get under the roof panel at the edge. To prevent this problem:

  • Avoid planting trees anywhere near buildings with gutters
  • Clean the gutters as needed to remove any leaves or garbage (yes your tenants will throw trash on your roof) that could cause a clog
  • If you have a situation where you are getting ice dams, consider installing heated gutter tape in the gutter and downspout

The final piece of advice: As you plan your project, listen to your building salesperson. Trachte’s Regional Managers have decades upon decades of experience selling buildings and following up with clients and will do their best to help you succeed.

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