Ice And Water Shield Problems: Thoughts And What To Do?

The roof ice and water shield made of rubberized asphalt mixture are great to prevent leaks. It can stop leaks caused by wind-driven rain and ice dams. 

Wrinkles/buckling is the most common ice and water shield problem. When such problems appear, there is no point salvaging them. 

Most people think it’s better to tear it off and replace it if it’s a small area. So, I think it’s time to talk about this in more detail and see what to do and avoid such problems in near future.

Wrinkled Ice And Water Shield: Replace Or Salvage?

issues with ice and water shield

When the shield is down and buckling a few places, it’s okay to get confused about whether to fix it or just replace it entirely.

Most professional roofers will give you two sets of alternatives: fix those spots or replace them with a new shield entirely. 

Both the alternatives have pros and cons. 

If you try to salvage it, it will bring a lot of trouble. Cutting the membrane sections and patching again is a challenging endeavor. Unless it’s a very small area, it’s wise to replace the shield entirely. 

But just because it’s buckling does not mean it’s completely ruined. 

Covering the entire roof with Ice & Water Shield causes a vapor barrier. So, when the shield is buckling, it means gases are being trapped and escaping due to the heat of the sun. 

It may also indicate, there is enough integrity to the membrane of the shield to be able to trap the gas. 

So, it’s not a complete waste of time to try to salvage it, especially if the wrinkles happen in a short area. Inspect it yourself and just doing another ply over the old one should fix the problem. 

On the other hand, replacing the shield entirely involves a lot of costs. Don’t forget it will be a challenging task as well to remove all the membrane considering it’s already bonded.

But you have to tear it off and replace it completely because there is a greater chance the material has been damaged completely. 

Keep in mind, they are not supposed to be exposed for more than 30 days.

The only right approach is to hire a professional roofing contractor with good reviews to inspect the condition and give you the best solution. 

Do You Really Need Ice & Water Shield?

why do you need ice and water shield

I am asking this question because I have seen roofs with shields where it does not make any sense. 

Look…eaves protection is important but if the slope is adequate or there are no valleys, you don’t need it in the first place.

Sadly, some contractors specify the shield where it’s not necessary at all. Everybody likes an extra layer of weather resistance beneath the main roofing material, but no need to waste money. 

That being said, ice & water shielding is a must for areas where it receives huge snow coverage and precipitation. Besides, for low slope roofs, it’s good to use ice & water shield for eaves protection. 

It won’t prevent the ice dams but it will prevent leaks from such ice dams. And if you live in an area where it gets a lot of ice dams, you need a lot more of such shielding.

Even if you live in a warm and dry area, it will be wise to install the shield if the roof does not have adequate slopes. Nature is unpredictable and it can rain any time. 

Just keep in mind that leaks can still occur even if you install them. But if you cover your entire roof with an ice & water shield, the chances of having such leaks are really rare.

But it’s very important that you install it right. Watch this video to learn some tricks on ice and water installation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it OK to use ice and water shield on the entire roof?

Covering the entire roof with ice and a water shield will result in a vapor barrier. If that’s a problem for you, avoid covering the entire roof. If not because you have a well-ventilated attic, it will prevent leaks better and make repair easier. 

How long does ice and water shield last on a roof?

To be conservative, I would say 30 days like most roofers. But some companies like Grace Ice & Water Shield® have a 90 days’ exposure limit.

Is ice and water shield better than felt?

Of course, ice and water shield is far better than felt paper. It not only sticks to the wood roof sheathing, but it also sticks itself! When installed correctly, it will offer you a waterproof barrier that no felt paper can’t.

Can ice and water shield be exposed to sunlight?

No ice and water shields are meant to be exposed to the sun indefinitely. 

Can you staple down ice and water shield?

No! you should not staple down or nail the shields.

Can ice and water shield be used as flashing?

Yes, you can use the shield as flashing. It’s commonly used around the chimneys, skylights, and pipe flashing. 


Final Thoughts

What I have seen so far, those issues arise when it’s not installed correctly. So, to avoid such ice and water shield problems, you should consult a professional roofing contractor when you need to install it. 

Before you try to salvage the buckling shield, consult with the contractor whether you should tear it off or not to save time and effort. 

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