Determining if your home has proper ice and water shield protection can be a bit of a dilemma for homeowners. To ideally check, one would have to peek underneath the shingles at the edge of the roof. There, beneath the shingles and past the starter strip, you should be able to spot the ice and water shield—a vital component for preventing water damage.
However, proceeding with caution is key. Lifting the shingles may compromise their seal, and once broken, debris can interfere and prevent them from resealing effectively. This could lead to potential roof damage, so although this method is direct, it is risky and may not be recommended for a casual inspection.
So, is there another way to tell if you have ice and water shield protection? The geographic location and age of your home can offer valuable clues. Since around 2012, ice and water shield installation has been a standard building code requirement in northern states. Prior to that, in years like 2009, while recommended, it was not enforced, and consequently, not all homes were equipped with it. The more conscientious roofers would have used ice and water shield around eaves, rakes, valleys, and near roof penetrations like vents and pipe jacks, but it was not universal.
The material isn't cheap—a roll typically covers around 200 square feet and is quite costly compared to regular underlayment. This means in the past, some homeowners or builders may have opted out to save on costs.
If your roof is over 20 years old, it’s likely it doesn't include this protection, whereas a newer roof, especially one constructed in the last 20 years, probably does have it. Using the age and construction history of your house is, therefore, a reasonable indicator.
In summary, while physically checking under the shingles is the most direct way to confirm the presence of ice and water shield, it's not always practical or safe to do so. Taking into consideration the building codes in your region and the time frame when your roof was installed can serve as a reliable guide to understanding if your home is likely protected by this essential weatherproofing component.