Example of roofing system

Example of roofing system

Recently while performing a Buffalo Grove home inspection we encountered large chunks of ice which are known as ice dams that occurs usually when the attic of a home has insufficient insulation or poor ventilation of the attic.  To get the full understanding of ice damming we have to climb on the top of the roof to physically see the size of the ice dam.   This is where nerves of steel are required.  Most listing agents do not really appreciate are need for thoroughness although there is no other way to get the full extent of the potential damage the ice dam can cause to the homes attic or walls.  We always explain to the client that we may not be able to access your roof in the winter due to the potential safety issues that may develop for the home inspector.   Luckily for the clients from the Buffalo Grove home inspection we were able to walk the roof and properly inspect the roof.

While walking the roof we found that the roofing shingles had been torn in many areas due to the shifting of the ice dam.  These areas allowed the tar paper that is installed to protect the wood decking completely exposed.  If the tar paper is compromised the wood decking can become wet allowing water entry in the attic and potentially in the home’s attic.  The roof of the Buffalo Grove home inspection will require repairs to assure that water entry does not occur in the upcoming spring.

When we entered the homes 2nd floor we noticed a faint brown mark in the ceiling directly adjacent to the exterior wall of the laundry room.  This location was thermal imaged with a Fluke Thermal imager and scanned with a Tramex moisture meter.  We just found ice damming damage that was documented for the clients of the Buffalo Grove home inspection.   We also found the same issue on the 2nd floor hall walls directly across the from the laundry room.  How to stop the ice damming from occurring?

Ice damming was occurring on this particular home from loose or not properly sealed ice shield.  The ice shield is installed under the tar paper which is only installed between 2′ – 3′ from the edges of the roof.  Due to the large amount of snow we received in the Chicago land area this winter followed by the rain caused the snow to freeze up in 4′ – 8′ ice dams.  This allows the water to melt and find its way under the shingles of the roof.  Fiberglass / asphalt roofs are shed roofs which will not hold water in these types of situations.  The water from the ice dam melted and wicked its way under the ice shield from the gutter and found its way in the walls.  This particular home is 3 years old and was built correctly.  Mother Nature just happened to deliver more snow that what can be handled for building codes in this region.

Ice damming for other homes can be caused by many ways that you can look for in your home.

  • Insufficient insulation in the attic ~ Missing or limited amounts of attic insulation will allow heat from the home to access the attic.  Warm attics in the winter cause the snow to melt during the day and freeze in the night causing ice damning to occur.  If you attic has let than 8″ of insulation then you may need to add insulation to your attic to prevent the loss of your homes heat in the attic.  If you are buying a new home the attic should have a minimum of 10″ of rolled fiberglass insulation.  (The Buffalo Grove home inspection home had 18″ of insulation!)
  • Poor or no ventilation in the attic ~ Ventilation in an attic is a major system that should be verified.  If you do not see roof vents, soffit vents, ridge vents, gable vents, attic fans then your attic may be overheated and will require vents to be added to move air through.  The attic should generally be the same temperature as the outside or exterior temperature.  Poor ventilation causes the heat to be trapped in the attic causing the snow to melt and cause ice damming.
  • Large or long soffits ~ Soffits longer than 4′ can pose a landing pad for ice to dam up potentially causing the ice damming issue to develop.  The big soffits is just something that is a design and cannot be changes unless you are up for the addition of soffit electric heating elements to be added to the roof to melt the snow and ice.  Large soffits are seen but not on a regular basis unless you are the company removing ice dams.

If you have ice damming and you have a newer home (5-10 years) there may not be a whole lot you can do to change your home because your issues just like the Buffalo Grove home inspection was just due to the multiple snow storms we had this year.  If you have an older home check your home for the items we listed above and see if you need to perform corrections in any of these areas.  If  you have any questions about this or any other issues please contact us at The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thank you for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

Pinnacle Property Inspection Services, Inc.


 If you are following the news you would have seen that Chicago and the metropolitan area have received record amounts of snowfall within the last two days.  There will be many roofs that will be leaking in the next couple weeks.  Why? I’ll explain the components I found to be an issue on a roof at a Highland Park home inspection.

There are many parts of a roof that make it work.  All of these parts of a roof make it shed water away from the home’s interior.

  • Shingles are the materiel that is layered all over the sheeting to protect and allow water and snow to shed away and down from the property.  The shingles can be made of the clay, cement, tile, cedar wood shake, cedar wood shingle, slate, hybrid polymer, tin, raised metal and the most popular asphalt or fiberglass.  All of these types of shingles have their own positives and negatives.  They are basically determined by their cost to length of lifespan.  This is generally how much a roof may cost to replace per square foot.
  • Flashings are a major component to a home’s roof.  The Highland Park home inspection was missing the apron flashing.  The apron flashing is the flashing that funnels the water from the edge of the roof into the gutter.  There are other flashing’s that are just as important.  These flashing’s are head wall flashing’s, step flashing, vent penetration flashing’s, counter flashing, pan flashing, channel flashing, kick-out flashing and drip edge flashing or apron flashing.
  • Ice barrier or Ice shield was an issue also on the Highland Park home inspection.  The owner of the Highland Park home inspection said it was not code.  He is not only wrong but crazy that he allowed his roofer or shall I say unprofessional roofer install this roof without apron flashings and ice shield.  The ice shield is 36″ long and runs the edge of the whole roof to protect the home from ice damning penetration if it were to happen.  The ice shield can be longer depending on how wide your soffits are.

My client from the Highland Park home inspection brought in a licensed roofing contractor that estimated the repair costs of installing apron flashings and ice shield around the roof of the home to be $1600.00.  As you see roofing repairs can be costly and that’s why our Thermal Home Inspections are so detailed.

If you have roofing issues like the Highland Park home inspection and have questions that we can assist you with please contact us at The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

Doing a home inspection on a roof in the Chicago land area can be hard to say the least.  I advise to have your roof inspected on every home inspection  even if your inspection is in the winter.  Why?  So many issues can start because of roof issues.  That was definitely the case at the Prairie View home inspection.

The Prairie View home I was inspecting looked very nice from a common view.  When I started probing around the property I noticed that some of the work was done below standards.  The roof was my biggest concern because it was covered with snow and I noticed from the ground that there were areas that where missing shingles.  Because of the pitch and snow covering of 60% of the roof I  had to reposition the ladder in various areas to inspect the roof as a whole.  There were major components that were missing and were causing water infiltration to the building components of the home.

  • Ice Shield  was missing through out the roof of the home.  The ice shield is a 36″ long material that is rolled out from the edge of the roof up toward the ridge of the roof.  The ice shield is installed to protect the roof sheeting from possible ice damning water from entering the building components of the home.
  • Apron flashing was missing and protects the fascia board from wood rot and water penetration.  The apron flashing generally is installed under the shingles and into the gutter of the roof.
  • Roof Drainage system was not installed.  You might know this as the gutters, downspouts,  and leaders.  When these components are missing you open your home up to possible foundation issues, water issues in the basement and so much more.
  • Chimney flashing was  the wrong type.  I suggest using galvanize metal, copper or aluminum.  The Prairie View home inspection had a rolled roofing material as the flashing for the chimney.   There was areas that were open to the environment and were definitely causing water damage to the interior walls of the home.  How was this found?  We use Fluke thermal imagers and Tramex moisture meters on the exterior walls and all ceilings of the Prairie View home inspection.

As you now can see that the cards are stacked up against a home buyer that does not hire a diligent home inspector that does not try to the utmost to protect you from possible hidden issues.  My client from the Prairie View home inspection said he hired The Thermal Home Inspector because of the great reviews he saw on line and the great videos we have on our website.

If you are still unsure of what to look for on a roof when shopping for your home then contact me at The Thermal Home Inspector or call me at 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke