Maintenance Tip – Preventing Ice Dams

What is an Ice Dam?
Ice dams are formed by continual thawing and refreezing of melting snow. Large masses of ice develop as snow on the upper part of the roof melts. The water runs under the snow and refreezes at the edge of the roof. Additional snow melts and forms pools against the dam gradually causing water to back up the roof often getting under the shingles and eventually leaking into the house.

What causes Ice Dams?

  1. Inadequate attic ventilation
  2. Bright sunshine melting the snow
  3. Poorly placed gutters preventing snow and ice from sliding off the roof
  4. Insufficient attic insulation allowing the heated air of the attic to reach the roof deck and melt the snow

How to prevent Ice Dams?
The goal is to keep the entire roof the same temperature as the eaves. You do that by increasing ventilation, adding insulation, and sealing off every possible air leak that might warm the underside of the roof.

Northern Building Services can help out (just call 905-717-0334).  We can:

  • Install Waterproofing Membrane on eaves and in valleys to prevent water from penetrating the roof
  • Improve attic insulation keeping the attic space cool, to reduce the amount of melting snow
  • Improve attic ventilation to ensure that the attic remains cold
  • Make sure that your gutters or eaves-troughing are lower than the slope of the roof to allow snow and ice to glide off



Maintenance Tip: Eaves-trough Cleaning twice a year

As you may know, eaves-troughs are installed to control the flow of water and divert water to a safe location.  But keep in mind that eaves-troughs become very easily clogged and require preventative maintenance 2 times per year:

  • Falling debris such as leaves in the Fall
  • Flowers and seed pods in the Spring and Summer
  • Snow in the Winter
  • Tree branches, bird and animal debris all year-round

Eaves-troughs are part of a home that many owners pay little attention to…until it’s too late!  Avoid costly water damage due to eaves-trough maintenance neglect.

Did you know that the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care encourages regular cleaning of your eavestrough as a means of protection against West Nile Virus?
60% or more of mosquitoes in your neighbourhood come from clogged eaves-troughs, or badly sloped eaves-troughs.

Northern Building Services provides eaves-trough cleaning services in your neighbourhood.  Simply call 905-717-0334.


Roofing Problems: Warning Signs

The following images will help you identify the potential for roof failure.  Or call us and we will help you with the inspection.

Bare Spots

Bare SpotsThe protective granular surface of shingles wears off as the asphalt, into which the granules are embedded, begins to harden over time. Bare spots are often accompanied by fine fissures on the shingles’ surface and by the accumulation of granules in the gutters.


CurlingThe upward curling of shingle tabs makes them highly susceptible to wind and ice damage. This is a problem on older roofs where moisture build-up in the attic affects the underside of the shingle.

Broken Shingles

Broken ShinglesDamage can be caused by extreme wind conditions and snow removal. Since shingles are supposed to shed water, broken, torn or missing tabs become obvious entry points for water, especially on low slope roofs where run-off is slower and at the peaks of the roof where shingles are the most vulnerable to high winds.


ClawingThis is the curling under of the shingle tab’s bottom edge and is part of the normal aging process of shingles. The bulge created is susceptible to substantial damage by wind action, hail and ice.


BucklingBuckling is a visible distortion or waviness in the horizontal lines of shingles, and usually runs in a straight line up the roof slope. Shingle tabs become exposed to wind and can be torn off. Very often, the problem is warping in the roof deck caused by poor attic ventilation. The use of thinner-than recommended plywood and other non-plywood materials adds to the problem.


FlashingMany problems occur at the flashings around vents, soil stacks, chimneys and vertical wall joints. Is the flashing cracked? Is the caulking around the flashing dried out? Are the shingles that lie over the flashing in good shape?

Thanks to Building Products of Canada for supplying the images and text.

Why repair masonry damage promptly?

Don’t wait until a small masonry problem turns into a big masonry problem.  Masonry damage should be repaired promptly because it can lead to other problems:

  • Roof leaks
  • Moisture can enter through a damaged brick
  • White (lime-like) marks visible on exterior surfaces

Work done by a masonry specialist can last for decades and often increase a home’s value by restoring the integrity of exterior surfaces and enhancing the curb appeal.

Don’t ignore that crumbling brick

Is your home more than 10 years old? Take a moment to do a walk-around – your chimney, the window sills, doorways, garage doors and piers. See any crumbling brick faces that appear to have fallen off?

Northern Building Services can handle all your masonry needs:
Window sills (brick or stone)
Formed concrete (porches, stairs, walkways, retaining walls)
Chimney repair or rebuild
Brick replacement
Foundation waterproofing

How do I ensure a properly executed window sill replacement?

A properly executed window sill replacement can extend the life of your older windows by preventing further rot in and around the windows. Be sure to properly seal and paint your windows on a regular basis and you will not have to worry about another window sill replacement for a long time.

Whether you have your heart set on a new design or your sills are falling apart, we are your window sill replacement experts.

How often should a chimney cleaning be done?

It would depend on how often the system is used, but we do recommend that your chimney is inspected annually. We could then advise you of the chimneys condition, including the masonry, brickwork, firebox, and flue. Quite often a minor repair or use suggestion can save you a costly expense in the future.


We just bought a house, should we have the fireplace inspected or cleaned?

The short answer is:  YES.

A Chimney Repairman should inspect the complete wood burning system including the chimney at roof level. They will be able to properly advise you of any problems and if a chimney cleaning is required. They would also be able to advice on the proper use of the damper and correct wood burning procedures.