“My Ceiling Is Leaking!” Such was the call one morning last week from a good client. She owns and operates a school that was experiencing significant water coming in through her drywall ceiling due to ice dams. To make matters worse, the ceiling leaks were in an area used for infants and she was planning on having an open house to attract new clients in just 2 days. Given that her school is an immaculate, well-maintained, and professionally run operation, roof leaks and ceiling stains are completely unacceptable to her.
A Major Cause of Ceiling Drywall Repairs
With all of the snow we have had the last few weeks, we have seen a major increase in ceiling damage due to ice dams forming on the roof. These ice dams cause subsequent snow melt to back up and enter the roof, eventually leaking down onto the ceiling drywall, causing stains and damage. Ice dams are extremely difficult to remove during cold weather. Therefore, prevention is paramount to avoid costly ceiling drywall damage.
Ice Dams Can Cause Serious Drywall Ceiling Damage
The following story and pictures are from a school in Mason, Ohio that suffered from severe ice dams this past week. The owner of the school reported significant water leaking from several areas of the ceiling and window. In addition, she reported seeing large icicles hanging from the roof line adjacent to the area of building affected by the ceiling leaks. Upon arrival, our goal was to quickly identify the cause of the ceiling leak and mitigate further ceiling drywall damage, as ceiling drywall repair is far more expensive than simply fixing drywall damage done to walls.
For a brief discussion on what causes ice dams to form and how you can prevent them, please reference my previous post, Avoid Costly Winter Home Repairs with 5 Simple Steps from ProMaster of Cincinnati
Now, back to the story. Once on site, we noted each area of the ceiling where water was coming in. We then quickly inspected the underside of the entire roof from the attic to determine the source and cause of the leak. While our initial assessment suspected the cause of the leak to be an ice dam, I always stress to my craftsmen to not bias their diagnosis toward the first piece of information they discover. Rather, they should troubleshoot all potential causes of a problem before issuing a conclusion. This prevents wasted effort attempting to solve the wrong cause of a problem.
Ice Dams That Caused Ceiling Drywall Damage
After eliminating other causes of water intrusion that could cause the ceiling drywall leaks noted in the school building, we established that the ice dams, with subsequent melting snow, were the source of the water. The good news is that we found the cause. The bad news was that the small area of roof affected by the leak was not accessible. In other words, it was a sealed area, making it impossible for us to install any sort of temporary barrier to channel the incoming water away from the room below, thus preventing further damage to the ceiling drywall.
Here are some of the pictures from the ice dams that were causing the leak and subsequent ceiling drywall damage. As you can see, they are pretty severe and not easily removed. While icicles are certainly attractive—they are dangerous and indicative of either insufficient insulation and/or a roof and gutter system ineffectively shedding water. If you see this, you have a serious problem.
How We Saved the Client from Major Ceiling Drywall Repairs
Therefore, the best option was to remove the ice dams as quickly as possible. Otherwise, every minute that the leak continues only raises the client’s cost for ceiling drywall repair. Given that these leaks were in an infant nursery, you can imagine the client’s distress and motivation to resolve the problem as expeditiously as possible.
How did we “save the day?” Well, emulating what we did can reveal a few tips you can use at home to safely and effectively melt an ice dam on your home, even when the temperature is below freezing.
First, my assistant Brice and I went to the local grocery store and purchased several packages of ladies hosiery. Needless to say, we felt slightly embarrassed going through the checkout line… but hey, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, right?
Next, we purchased some granular ice melt, liquid deice (the type you would use in your car’s windshield washer fluid) and several runs of heating elements that are designed to keep gutters from freezing.
Now comes the fun part. Brice went through the arduous task of chipping away as much of the ice dam as possible. Using some of the liquid deice assisted in softening the ice, but this was still no small feat, as the ice was over 4 inches thick in many places! He then carved a trough in the frozen gutters and carefully placed the wire heating element inside it. And finally, he filled each leg of the ladies hosiery with the granular snow melt and placed these sausage-like devices in the trough of the gutter.
While it took 2 days to completely melt all of the ice from the gutters and roof in the affected area, we were able to stop the water intrusion that was leaking onto the drywall ceiling rather quickly. Hence, we spared the client considerable cost in drywall repair and subsequent inconvenience or loss of revenue to her daycare and school operation.
Lesson of the whole story is this: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
What caused the ice dams to form on this school were the combination of clogged and inappropriately sloped gutters, insufficient attic insulation, and no heating elements installed in the gutters to handle large snow events.
Ceiling Leak Caused Need for Repair?
ProMaster Home Repair & Handyman of Cincinnati is a great choice for those who don’t have the time or inclination to perform their own ceiling drywall repairs. From simple crack repairs in walls and ceilings to complete water damage restoration services, ProMaster of Cincinnati has a skilled team of professionals who understand that attention to detail, artistry and precise craftsmanship are the keys to success in any ceiling drywall repair project.
Our Master Craftsmen are professionals who have honed their drywall repair skills by experience and a quest for perfection. Keep in mind that these craftsmen aren’t just drywall repair experts; they are skilled at other home repair tasks like carpentry, concrete & masonry, drywall & paint, electrical, flooring & tile, plumbing and roofing. Our multi-skilled craftsmen represent a distinct advantage over other drywall repair contractors due to their ability to perform numerous tasks associated with a ceiling drywall project.