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What is Ice and Water Shield and How Does It Work?

Friday, November 10th, 2017 by Edward Rollins


What is Ice and Water Shield and How Does It Work - Image 1What Is Ice and Water Shield?

Ice and water shield is a thick, sticky-back underlayment made of asphalt that will adhere to your roof deck and prevent water from seeping into your home if it gets under your shingles. It is an amazing roofing product that was introduced in the 1980s and has quickly become the gold standard for creating leak-free roofs in all climates.

 

How Does Ice and Water Shield Work?

If an ice dam occurs on your roof and water backs up under the shingles it will seep down into your home through the nail holes holding the shingles on and into your attic. Once there it will saturate plywood, insulation, and drywall, which will then lead to interior home repairs to your walls, ceilings, paint, and insulation. No one wants that.

Ice and water shield acts as a gasket around each of those nail holes, creating a watertight barrier that won’t let any leaks take place. If water does get under the shingles, it will stay on top of the ice and water shield and run off of your roof where it belongs.

 

Where Is Ice and Water Shield Needed?

Ice and water shield should be installed anywhere that there is a chance of water getting under the shingles. These locations tend to be…

  1. In every valley.
  2. Around every pipe, before the flashing is installed.
  3. Along every wall, chimney, or skylight where flashing will be installed.
  4. If you live in Northern Climates you would want it installed on the eaves of your home up to 24” inside the exterior wall. Living in Georgia, where we don’t see much snow this is not an important area to install the shield.

Ice and water shield acts as an excellent backup protection in case any of these areas have small leaks or failures. We install ice and water shield in all of these places and make sure it won’t leak before any roofing is installed. With the new roof over top there are 2 layers everywhere on the roof for water to get through before it reaches your home.

Like any important system, you need redundancy to be sure there are no problems. Even if there was a problem with the top layer, the second layer will do its job and keep water out of your home.

 

Is All Ice and Water Shield Created Equal?

Like all things, ice and water shield comes in different qualities. While some contractors may claim that the “cheap stuff” they use is “just as good” as the higher quality, more expensive version, it’s just not. The amount of rubberized asphalt adhesive on the underside of the ice and water shield will determine how well it will seal down and protect your home against water intrusion.

Cheaper versions of ice and water shield have much less asphalt adhesive on the back side and do not stick down nearly as well as the premium products like Owens Corning Weather Lock. In addition, you will find many of the quality brands even come with a warranty that you’ll never find with cheaper versions.

If you do get an ice and water shield product of the lesser quality installed onto your home and experience a severe ice dam on your home, you may find multiple leaks in your home – even though your new roof was technically installed according to code requirements. The cost of upgrading to high-quality ice and water shield is minimal when compared to the massive damage that could be caused without it. 

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