How to Prevent Ice Dams from Forming

Icicles and ice dams might be pretty glistening in the sun, but they can cause extensive water damage to your home. Learn how to prevent them.

Ice dams happen because melting snow pools behind dams of ice at the roof’s edge causing water to leak into the house. As snow melts, water runs down toward the edge of the roof and as temperature drop at night, it refreezes, causing beautiful formations of ice and icicles. While they may be pretty to the eye, they can be devastating to the structure of your home, not to mention the damage they cause to your gutter system.

The good news is that ice dams are preventable. Ensuring that your roof has an effective ventilation system in the attic is effective at preventing these ice formations as it will help keep the roof sheathing cool. Your attic should also have sufficient insulation as that will slow down the flow of heated air to the underside of the roof. Keeping the roof cool, doesn’t allow for the snow to melt as quickly.

If you are installing a new roof, be sure to ask your contractor about ice and water barriers that are installed along the roof edges. Ice and water barriers are special underlayments designed to protect against ice damming.

A roof rake is an option to clear the snow from the roof before ice damming has a chance to occur. Remember never to use a roof rake while on a ladder and always be safety conscious while using one. Another option for preventing ice dams is to have heat cables installed along the roof edge and into the gutter and downspout.

Ice dams themselves aren’t the problem, it’s the leaks that result from them. If you do see an ice dam on your roof and no sign of a leak, you may not need to do anything except take preventive measure after the weather warms. If you do see signs of leaking call a professional roofing contractor to come out and get rid of the ice. Don’t try to remove it yourself as you risk breaking or puncturing shingles. Your contractor can review options with you for future prevention.