Preventing Roof Ice Dams

heavy snow on roof

The formation of ice dams on the roof can spell disaster for any homeowner and is an issue that must be solved quickly.  Ice dams are the name referring to the buildup of ice on the eaves of the roof which can cause standing water to be caught on the shingles.

How do ice dams form?


An ice dam forms as heat from the home escapes through the roof and causes the snow that is on top of the roof to melt.  As the meltwater runs down the roof, it cools when it hits the parts of the roof that are not heated from the home, usually the eaves of the roof, and refreezes, causing the buildup of more and more ice until an ice dam has formed and has completely blocked the flow of melting water from the roof.

How to avoid ice dams?

When water is left standing on the roof, it has the potential to erode shingles and leak into the home, cause great amounts of water damage to both the roof of the home and possibly the interior of the home as well. But this damage can be avoided if the homeowner will take the appropriate steps in avoiding the buildup of ice dams.

  1. Secure the attic insulation. Insulating the attic of the home will allow less heat to escape and thereby largely eliminate the staggered snowmelt that leads to ice dams.
  2. Create ventilation. Both on the roof itself and from the attic through the roof at the corners, creating and installing ventilation will allow for the warm air to escape the sides of the home while allowing for cold air to run up the length of the roof to keep the snow cold and safe.
  3. Cap any hatches on the roof. Ceiling fans, attic hatches and other such openings allow for warm air to escape in droves. Sealing or capping these openings effectively will greatly reduce the amount of melt-water that has the potential to form an ice dam.
  4. Install snow brackets. Snow clips will help to retain the snow on the roof and will discourage the formation of ice dams by holding snow in place and allowing for an even and natural melt.

Rooftop Snow Retention – Solving the Mystery (L&L)

TRA will be presenting an open snow retention lunch and learn with the Associated General Contractors of Utah on February 12th, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm. This lunch and learn is open to anyone who would like to attend. The cost for AGC members is $15 and for non-members is $20 which includes lunch. Follow the link to register. To Register Click Here

Event Location:

AGC Headquarters
2207 South 1070 West
Salt Lake City, UT. 84119

Event Description:

In the building world there are codes and standards for everything, that is except for rooftop snow retention.  That’s right, there are no national or local codes that that govern the engineering, manufacturing, testing, or installation of snow retention devices.  This is a dilemma for building professionals trying to deal with the safety issues caused by sliding snow and ice. 

This course discusses the primary reasons snow retention is needed on a roof and the science behind each type of system.  It explains why engineering is the key to a successful system and why a lack of engineering is the primary key to a system failing.  You will also explore many of the common objections to including snow retention on a building project and why they are worth the added expense in the long run.  Finally, you will learn how a good snow retention company will help bridge the gap created by the lack of codes and standards.

Chimneys and Roofs – How They are Similar

What?  Roof Systems and chimneys the SAME?  You’re thinking, “No way, Jose!”  Okay, before leaving this post, give me just a second to explain.

smoking chimney


We at TRA Snow and Sun sell ventilated roof flashings and ridge risers which help with roof system ventilation.  No, we don’t want you to set them on fire thereby showing that roofs and chimneys are the same because of fire.

Chimneys are ventilation systems for the hot air and smoke produced in a fireplace.  Roof systems can also be ventilation  systems.  We’re not talking here about venting an attic, but venting UNDER the roofing product from eave to ridge.

Reduce Heat Losstile vent, roof ventilation

In a chimney, hot air rises because it is less dense than the colder air outside the building.  This causes a draft from low to high and out the top of the chimney.

For more information on why venting roof system is an excellent idea, see our previous posts – Why Roof Ventilation is So Important, Vent a Metal Roof? Absolutely, Why You Should Vent a Roof.

For both chimneys and roof ventilation, there are factors which affect the amount of draft produced.

  • The distance from eave to ridge on a roof or from the fireplace to outside in a chimney
  • The temperature outside compared to inside for a chimney and from the eave to the ridge on a roof.
  • Obstructions between eave and ridge. Design such as valleys, dormers, skylights, etc., will inhibit the venting of a roof system.
  • On the roof, the lower the slope the harder it is for a draft to form, therefore the duct size or opening below the roofing product must be greater on lower slopes.

Venting a roof system in a cold climate will help stop ice damming and in a warm climate will cool the house by helping prevent radiant heat from the sun getting trapped by the roofing product.

Talk to the experts at TRA Snow and Sun about venting your roof!


VersaFlash: The Must Have ‘Roofer’s Duct Tape’


SolarFlash (2)

TRA Snow and Sun has something every roofer needs: VersaFlash.  It’s a must-have for all roofers. We call it the “roofer’s duct tape”. Here’s why you need it for every roofing project.

VersaFlash: The Roofer’s Duct Tape

The primary reason any type of roofing exists is to provide a protective layer to maintain a barrier between the interior of a building and the weather. How this is accomplished can take many different forms, but there’s nothing proven to work better than TRA Snow and Sun’s VersaFlash: flexible aluminum flashing that attaches down with a butyl. It adheres to the wall or other roofing structure or tile, is extremely flexible, and adds a professional finish to all roofing projects, while being extremely effective at sealing out water and preventing leaks.

Types of VersaFlash

Some types of VersaFlash are meant just for concrete and clay tile roofing only, while others are effective for all types of roof. Here’s a breakdown of VersaFlash offered by TRA Snow and Sun.

Why Choose VersaFlash?

Simply put, VersaFlash is easy to use, flexible, and will save you time and money without sacrificing an inch in quality. There are many reasons you’ll love Aluminum and Copper VersaFlash — here’s why once you choose it, you’ll never roof without it again.


We don’t call it the “roofer’s duct tape” for nothing. VersaFlash is made of flexible, stretchy material that can be used to seal roof-to-wall abutments, chimneys, and basically anything you can think of. It’s very easy to work with so you can get the job done right the first time.

Conforms to Many Roof Types

A roofer looking for a go-to roofing adhesive need look no further than VersaFlash. Other than the HD Aluminum Roll (clay and concrete) we offer, VersaFlash will conform to most types of roofs including, but not limited to:

  • Asphalt Shingles
  • Wood Shingles and Shakes
  • Slate
  • Metal (copper, steel, aluminum, tile)
  • Fiber Cement


Leave all of your re-flashing worries behind with VersaFlash. It’s highly durable, flexible, and weather resistant. It stretches to a maximum of 33 percent, conforms easily to roof surfaces, and installation is easy. If you want a durable roofing adhesive that won’t give you problems down the road, VersaFlash is the gold standard. On top of it all, TRA Snow and Sun offers a 25-year limited warranty.

TRA Snow and Sun is your number one source for solar mounting, snow retention, flexible ventilation, and flashing material. We offer competitive prices and guarantee our products. Give us a call today at 877-290-8669 for more details, and check out all of our flashing products at

Some Tidbits About BYU-Hawaii Roofs and TRA’s Owner


The owner of TRA Snow and Sun, Terry Anderson, recently visited Laie, Hawaii and was thrilled to see construction on some buildings at the BYU-Hawaii Campus and his products being installed!  – RIDGE RISERS!


4550242308_1cb83458ee_oBYU Hawaii ridge riser cropped

IMG_1880   Ridge Riser - Hawaii

Concrete tile is a good choice in the tough, humid climates like you find in islands of the Pacific.  Whereas wood can rot and asphalt shingles wear out due to weather conditions, tile gets stronger over time and is not as susceptible to the ravages of the climate conditions.

As a roof consultant decades ago, Terry helped the Mormon Church with some roof consulting on tile roofs in the Hawaiian Islands. Concrete tile was used on many buildings then. The roofs have lasted for decades and this year on his trip, he discovered that Boral Tile is being re-installed on some of the buildings on campus.

TRA Snow and Sun’s Ridge Risers were not invented until recently (and patented by Anderson) so Terry was excited to see them being used on the re-roof project.



Ridge risers are used on: Concrete and Clay Tile Roofs

• They elevate the nailing board for proper ventilation
• Easy application for hip and ridge tiles
• They fit all tile profiles at the hips and ridges
• Long term durability

We have Ridge Risers in stock right now! Call 800-606-8980 or visit:

TRA Snow and Sun Designs New Tile Vent for National Customer

TRA Snow and Sun has redesigned TileVent to meet higher tile roof ventilation needs on Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouses. Natural resources are conserved when tile roof ventilation is installed.

TRA Snow and Sun of American Fork, Utah, recently created a newTile Vent installation

TileVent to be used on meetinghouses for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) with tile roofs. The new TileVent is wider with more ventilation holes than the regular TRA TileVent.

TileVent is a lightweight, corrugated aluminum or copper product used to flash the ridge or hip of a tile roof while, at the same time, allowing air flow from the lower part of the roof to vent up and out through the ridge.

Why is air flow from the eave to the ridge important?

TRA President, Terry Anderson, explains, “If you have ever worked in an attic space on a hot summer day you know how stifling and miserable it can be up there. Obviously roofs and exterior surfaces get hot from the sun during daytime hours and that radiant heat enters the building, in turn heating the air molecules which then naturally travel upward. By venting the roof system, the warm air is sucked out the ridge as cool air enters at the eave. The escaped hot air is replaced by cooler air, thus keeping interior temperatures lower.” In other words, venting promotes a constant temperature from eave to roof ridge, reducing ice dams in winter months while providing energy efficiency and reducing costs all year. Condensation issues are also prevented.

A side benefit is that limited natural resources are conserved because buildings that are vented this way use less energy for cooling. According to a study done by Oakridge National Laboratory, “Venting caused a significant 50% reduction in the heat penetrating the conditioned space compared to the direct-nailed asphalt shingle roof that is in direct contact with the roof deck.*”

TRA Snow and Sun’s regular TileVent, available in 25 foot rolls in widths from 9.5″ – 15.75″, conforms to the surface of the roof at hip or ridge and can stretch up to 30%. It is ICC approved for fire, rain, and dust. Standard installation calls for one roll of TileVent to be placed over the ridge and then adhered down on each side of the ridge on top of the roofing product. A butyl adhesive strip prevents driving snow or rain from entering the roof and allows for 10.3 square inches of net free airflow per running foot of roof.

Most LDS Church meetinghouses have a longer eave to ridge span than the average tile roof building. Creating airflow from eave to ridge over a long length of roof requires much greater exhaust per running foot, hence the new LDS designs which are 11″, 13″, and 17.75″ wide. The 17.75″ wide vent is applied the standard way (one piece running down the ridgeline) but the 11′ and 13″ vent products are applied on both sides of the ridge, rather than one strip wrapping the ridge. All three designs allow for a lot more air flow than the standard – 17.8 square inches of air flow per lineal foot for the 11” wide material, 22 square inches of air flow per lineal foot for the 13” wide material. The 17.75″ wide TileVent used on the LDS church provides more ventilation holes than the standard tile vent which provides 16.2 square inches of air flow per lineal foot.

TRA Snow and Sun, Inc encourages customers to contact them about special products like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did. Oftentimes new products like this one become available for all other customers.

*William A. Miller, Ph.D. Buildings Technology Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Study Cited: Steep-slope Assembly Testing of Clay and Concrete Tile with and without Cool Pigmented Colors – October 2005

TRA Snow and Sun, Inc., located in American Fork, Utah, offers Roof Snow Retention Devices, Solar Mounting Systems and Roof Ventilation and Flashing Solutions. They are dedicated to improving roofing systems with energy efficiency. Supplying to all types of customers, from the individual homeowners to the big developers. Their engineered designs are always free for all types of systems. For more information call Devin Hancock at TRA Snow and Sun at 800-606-8980, devin(at)trasnowandsun(dot)com, or visit



Why is Roof Ventilation so Important?

Just because your house does not include built-in roof ventilation does not mean that it is not important. Initially it may seem like an additional and unnecessary stress, but once installed it can make a huge difference in the lifespan of your attic and roof structure. Eventually, these installations will save you hundreds of dollars in repair costs.

The benefitsTile Roof

The ventilation process is beneficial in the extreme weather months throughout the year. During the summer the ventilation helps keep the temperature down in the attic, preventing moisture from collecting and deteriorating shingles. These lower temperatures then affect the rest of the home as well, keeping energy and air conditioning costs down.

Once it begins to get cold outside, the ventilation is still able to maintain a dry environment for the attic and reduce the moisture inside. Typically, water would build up under the shingles, the insulation would become damaged, and the roof structure would rot.

Ice dams

In addition, without roof ventilation your home may begin to produce ice dams on your roof. In areas of extreme cold, roofs need special protection from the ice and snowfall in order to prevent it from building up and blocking the natural flow of melted water off of the roof. If not installed these ice dams often start leaks inside homes which then results in drywall damage.

Save yourself more money and more headaches by installing roof ventilation today. You will be grateful in both the usually hot summer months and freezing winter months.

photo credit: gcraig3si via photopin cc

Vent a Metal Roof? Absolutely

Did you know that venting underneath the roof surface can prevent problems with condensation, ice damming, and increase energy efficiency?  A ventilated system causes warmer air to move through the system and escape through the ridge while cooler air enters at the eave.  This phenomenon has tremendous benefits and an excellent payback.

CondensationArrowhead, Snow Brackets, Vented Roof

A brief lesson on condensation and dew point temperature:

Condensation occurs  when dew point is reached.  What  is dew point?  Dew point temperature is the point at which saturated air can no longer hold water in the form of vapor and it condenses into water droplets against a cool surface.  We’ve all witnessed this phenomenon when the air against a cold glass of ice water forms droplets on the outside of the glass.  The same thing can happen as warm vapor-filled air escapes up through our ceiling and into a cold attic or on to the back of a cold roofing product.  Ventilation provides a means for that water vapor to escape before it condenses in an attic or on the backside of a roofing product, like a metal panel.

How many of us have had that moment lying in bed staring at the ceiling and we see that brownish water spot on the sheetrock and think.  We think, ” ____(insert expletive here), a roof leak!”  But it might not be a “leak.”

Often water damage perceived as a roof leak is actually caused by condensation within the attic, walls, or underneath the roof material.  If water vapor accumulates in any of these areas it can condense to form water droplets, which will eventually cause serious damage to wood, insulation, sheetrock, etc.  In coastal areas, the damaging effects of water condensing under the metal panel is intensified by the corrosive nature of the humid air and salt.  That moist air needs a way to escape and one way to assist with this problem is by ventilating.

Ice Damming

Ice dams are formed in snow climates when warm areas of a roof cause snow and ice to melt.  After melting the water then runs down the roof to an area where the roof is very cold, re-freezing into ice.  Eventually enough water has frozen, forming a wall of ice which prevents water from running down the roof surface.  This water inevitably backs up and finds a way into the building.  Ice dams can also cause serious problems when they eventually break loose and damage gutters, roof penetrations, and possibly people and property below.

The solution to ice dams is to keep the roof temperature even, preventing warm and cold spots.  Without ventilation, eave overhangs tend to be very cold and roof areas above the living spaces within the building tend to be warmer.  This scenario lends to the formation of ice dams.  By venting underneath the roof surface, any warm air escaping the building can exit through the ridge while being replaced by cooler air entering at the eave.  This keeps the roof at an even temperature so that ice dams never form.

Although ventilation can help prevent the formation of ice dams it won’t prevent sliding snow which can still cause serious problems.  An engineered snow retention system should always be considered.

Energy Efficiencyvent a metal roof

If you have ever worked in an attic space on a hot summer day you know how miserable that is.  Obviously roofs get hot from the sun and that heat enters the building.  Metal panels as well as other roofing products radiate that heat to the surrounding air and materials.  If there is a vented air space underneath the roof material, then the heat exiting the material warms the surrounding air molecules.  The molecules rise, escape through the ridge and are replaced by cooler air entering at the eave.  This drastically decreases the heat that enters the attic space or building by as much as 50% according to studies done at Oakridge National Testing Laboratories.

This decrease in entering heat equates to savings in cooling costs.  Those same studies from the testing lab showed as much as a 25% decrease in cooling costs.  The resulting savings makes for an incredibly rapid payback to the cost of adding a vented space under the roof surface.  An added benefit is that we conserve our limited resources, ensuring  a better future for all of us and generations to come.

Doing It the Right Way

Many factors play into the design of a ventilation system including determining the height of the air space needed and the size of the input and exhaust.  Some rules of thumb when installing a ventilation system are:

  1. Intake and exhaust should always exceed the size of your vented space
  2. Intakes and exhaust should be increased in size to accommodate for losses  to function created by screening as screening can significantly reduce airflow.
  3. The vented air space under the roofing product should be sized according to rafter length and roof slope.
  4. Steeper slopes tend to vent better than lower slopes and shorter lengths also tend to vent better than longer lengths.  So, steep short lengths require less of a ventilation space than low sloped long lengths.
  5. Cut up roofs with dormers and valleys also create challenges when designing ventilation because eave intake areas are limited.

When designing ventilation for your roof you should consult with an expert to get a properly designed system.

To sum it up, metal roofs benefit in many ways from a ventilation system.  A metal roof shouldn’t be installed without first giving these benefits consideration

Terry Anderson is CEO of Anderson Associates Consulting, Inc. and President of T.R.A.-MAGE, Inc.
He gives credit to Dr. William Miller of Oak Ridge Testing Laboratories and Dr Nigel Cherry of Redlands Testing Lab, London, for their work on ventilation.

Picture – Nomograph 4-21 from “Concrete and Clay Tile Roof Design Criteria Manual for Snow and Cold Regions” showing the height needed for air space based on slope and length of rafter.

Picture – “Ice dams and eave ice.jpg” showing a vented roof system in the background and a non vented roof system in the foreground.

By: Terry Anderson

Published: Metal Construction News January 9, 2012

Benefits of a Ventilated Roof System

You may have heard about the benefit of a ventilated roof throughout the winter time. If you weren’t sold on a ventilated roof for snow retention, you may not have realized how beneficial a ventilated roof can be throughout the summer months as well.  During the summer, if you have a ventilated roof you will find that you have a fifty percent reduction in the amount of heat that is able to penetrate the attic space compared to your roof without the ventilation system.

So what does this mean for you?

snow bracket, snow guardThroughout the summer months, you can save up to 22% on your cooling costs. That can be a substantial chunk of change when you think about the money that you spend cooling your home throughout the hottest months of the year.

How does it work?

A ventilated roof allows air to flow in the space between the roof tile and the roof surface.  As the air in this space is heated by the radiant heat (the heat from the exterior environment) the temperature of the air increases. As the temperature of the air increases it attempts to rise and this rising results in a natural air flow of the air. As the air flows from the eaves to the top of the roof our Cool Roof system then draws in any cool air and pushes out the warm air that is left in the air flow.

If you want to save money and energy this summer, a Cool Roof system may be exactly what you need.