How to Prevent and Manage Ice Dams on your Roof


Prevent ice dams in winterWinter can be tough on your roof and home.

In this blog, we’ll look at one of the most dangerous winter occurrences – the ice dam. Ice dams have the potential to cause expensive and dangerous water damage to your home.  

What is an Ice Dam?

Ice dams occur on your roof under very specific conditions – specifically, when you have the different temperatures on your roof.

Even in winter, heat from your home will rise to the top of the house where it can heat, and melt, snow. As the water slowly rolls down the roof, it leaves the warm top of the house and begins to cool again. When it refreezes, it can create an “ice dam” at the edge of the roof.

As the weather conditions continue, more snow at the top of the roof can melt and get trapped behind the ice dam. The water will back up behind the dam, where it finds cracks and openings in the home and causes water damage under roof and in the walls of the home.

An ice dam will often cause damage to ceiling insulation. It can also cause staining to your ceiling or water damage in your attic space. This can also lead to mold and other issues.

How to Prevent and Manage Damage from an Ice Dam

There are a few steps you can take to mitigate and prevent damage to your home from ice dams:

  • Remove snow from your roof. Even a simple rake or broom can remove snow and reduce risk. Remember, be careful when working on a snowy and dangerous roof, and that rake or broom can also cause damage to shingles.

  • Create channels in the ice dam to let water drain from the roof. Chipping away at the ice or using warm water will create a viable channel for several days, helping prevent the worst damage.

  • Eliminate drafts and air flow from your main living area into your attic space. The warm flow of air to your attic space is a primary reason for the snow melting on the crown of your roof. Stopping this flow of air can help prevent the melting snow that causes ice dams.

  • Increase the ceiling and roof insulation to cut down on the heat loss in your home that can cause ice dams. In addition, this can save you money on heating and cooling bills.

  • Add natural ventilation to your roof. This will help maintain a uniform roof temperature and prevent snow from melting at the top of the roof and then refreezing. It can also help reduce heat build-up in summer.

Protect your Home in winter

Many newer homes are designed to prevent ice dams, but any home in a region with snowfall and freezing is at risk of ice dams.

Contact a roofing professional for more information on protection from ice dams, or for an evaluation after a heavy snow fall. They can also safely remove the snow that creates risk. 

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