By Ken Collister in Tips & Tricks

How to Remove Shingles from Ice Shield

Ice Shield is a Pain to Tear-off

Ice and water shield solves a problem for homeowners – it creates a waterproof seal for nails passing through that keeps melting ice out of the building. This is great, but ice shield also creates other problems for roof installers. By design, ice shield adheres to the roof deck. And often, shingles stick to the ice shield – and that can easily add hours, if not days, to the tear-off project.

As anyone who has tried already knows, it can be very difficult to remove shingles from ice shield. Installers have two options, either separate the stuck shingles from the ice shield or remove the entire roof deck. Both options are time consuming and therefore costly. There is no perfect solution to this problem, but here are some tips that can help speed up the job.

Tips for separating shingles from ice shield

  1. Sometimes shingles come off the ice shield better when it is cool. In that case, tear off the bottom ice shielded portion of the roof before the shingles heat up and stick and stick together. However, remember to be conscious of the weather as it can be more difficult to cover up lower sections of roof (water flows down hill).
  2. Sometimes shingles come off the ice shield better when it is hot. In that case, let the area heat up a bit and then tear that area off, and then the shingles will separate from the ice shield.
  3. Sometimes shingles just won’t come up at all. When that happens, here are a few things you can try.
    • If the problem area isn’t too large, try a small yet sharp-edged tear bar like the Red Ripper to peal the shingles off.
    • Or, try a pneumatic air chisel to pop up the shingles. We have found that works well in cold weather. 
    • Other roofing contractors also use a multi-tool to separate shingles from ice shield, but that is tedious process.

Tear-off The Roof Deck

When there is a large area of shingles that need to be removed the best option may be to tear everything off including the roof deck. This can be a lot of work especially if there are valleys involved (see below). A 30 square roof may require removing and replacing 30-50 sheets of plywood. As you know, that is a lot of work!

When removing the roof deck is the best option, cut between the rafters and tear-out the wood with the shingles. BigBlue 5T Demolition Blade makes this work much easier because it cuts through shingles, ice shield, wood, and nails) in one pass. If you have a lot of cutting that needs to be done, you may want to consider RipCart to make cuts by walking instead of crawling. It can be a real body and time saver. 

Dealing with Ice Shield in Valleys

Probably the toughest areas to deal with shingles stuck to ice shield is in valleys. If there is only one roll of old ice shield stuck to the shingles centered in the valley, you can put a three foot wide aluminum valley over that to get a smooth starting point. Just make sure you tear off as many of the shingles as possible first.

Removing plywood in the valleys is difficult because the plywood is often laced under the rafters which requires removing and reinstalling them. In some situations we have found it faster to cut the plywood down the middle of the valley. Then, remove it and install angled 2 x 6 blocks between the rafters instead of disassembling and reassembling the valley (especially in the case of a roof built over an addition).

Ice and water shield is here to stay and it create a lot of extra work, but with the right tools and tactics roof installers can get the job done efficiently. 

Ken Collister

Ken has spent more than 30 years as a residential roofing contractor. He has always been looking for ways to get work done faster and reduce strain on his body.