How to Prevent Ice Dams

Water Restoration

In this article:

  • What Are Ice Dams?
  • How Do Ice Dams Form?
  • How to Prevent Ice Dams
  • What to Do About Roof Ice Dams
  • If You’re Experiencing Problems With Ice Dams, Call PuroClean Today!

Ice dams can be both a major nuisance and a costly problem for homeowners who live in areas of heavy snowfall during the winter. An ice dam forms when the snow melts and refreezes on the roof eaves, creating a ridge that blocks water flow from other parts of the roof. This builds up until water begins leaking through the roof. It can cause hundreds of dollars worth of damage to ceilings, walls, insulation, and more. 

However, if a heavy accumulation is already on its way down your gutter line, don’t panic just yet. There are still ways to rectify the situation before it causes further damage. Read below to learn more about ice dam prevention, from how they form to what you can do about them.

What Are Ice Dams?

Ice dams are formed when the ice on a roof melts and runs down the roof’s slope to the eave, which is the roof’s edge that extends beyond the house’s exterior walls. When the water reaches the eave, it cools and freezes, forming a ridge of ice along the roof’s edge. As more snow melts and flows down, it can become trapped behind the ice dam, creating a pool of water on the roof. This moisture can seep under shingles, into the attic, and eventually into the living space.

this ice dam on a roof highlights the importance of ice dam prevention
Ice dams can cause expensive damage to your home.

Ice dams are a common and often costly problem for homeowners. The excess water can cause serious damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and even electrical systems, as it seeps into these areas. Delaying repairs could cause more extensive long-term issues, such as mold growth or compromised structural integrity, potentially leading to even higher repair bills.

What Causes Ice Dams?

Several factors contribute to the formation of ice dams. The primary factors are the roof’s temperature and the amount of snow accumulation. Snow melts and flows down the slope when the roof’s temperature is above freezing. However, when the temperature at the roof’s edge is below freezing, the water freezes and forms an ice dam. The trapped water can seep into the home.

While the weather outside certainly plays a role in ice dam formation, other factors in our homes can worsen the problem. Poor attic insulation and ventilation will let the heat from inside a house escape into the attic, which can cause snow to melt. A steep roof pitch can also make it difficult for snow and ice to slide off.

Ice dams putting strain on a property roof
There are several efficient ways to prevent the formation of ice dams.

Ice Dam Prevention

Proper insulation and ventilation must be a priority for ice dam prevention. However, you can take many other steps to ensure your rooftop stays warm and dry throughout winter! From regular maintenance checks to installing specialized products, ensure you cover all bases for your peace of mind.

Keep Your Roof Clean. Removing snow, ice, and other debris from your roof can be an important measure for ice dam prevention. Aside from their capacity to cause costly damage to structures, ice dams can also cause injury if someone slips on any accumulated icy surfaces. Maintaining a clean roof can go a long way.

Install a Water-Repellent Membrane. Put the power of protection on your side by installing a special water-repellent membrane under the roofing shingles. A water-repellent membrane under your roofing shingles is the best way to protect your property from severe damage incurred by melting ice and the subsequent moisture that may follow. The protective layer creates an invisible, impassable barrier against water and other elements like humidity, helping you with ice dam prevention and avoiding costly repair bills in the future.

Ice dam formation causing gutter to sag
Taking steps to prevent ice dam formation can save you money in the long run.

Add Insulation. Insulating your attic is an effective way to maintain a consistent and comfortable temperature in your home. By trapping warm air inside, you’re safeguarding against the threat of ice dams forming along eaves or other vulnerable areas exposed to snowfall. This prevents snow from melting and refreezing at the roof’s edges when the winter chill sets in.

Improve Ventilation. Properly maintaining your roof is a good idea for many reasons, with proper ventilation at the top of the list. In regions with high snow accumulation rates, icy temperatures often prevent snow on roofs from melting away without help. Cold air entering an attic will prevent heat from doing its job and create a risk of ice dams forming. Ice dams can be difficult and dangerous to remove once they build up, so ensuring adequate ventilation can save time and money in the long run. Investing in proper roof maintenance through regular inspections and keeping attics warm are surefire ways to ensure ice dam prevention.

Install Heating Cables. Heating cables provide an ideal solution for homeowners looking for ice dam prevention measures. The cables are easily installed and use electricity to generate enough heat to melt the snow and keep it from forming an ice dam. By keeping these layers of snow away, you reduce your risk of experiencing damage caused by water seeping into your home due to the ice dam. 

Use Other Ice Dam Prevention Products. Sprinkling ice dam prevention products such as rock salt on the roof surface before winter starts can work wonders in preventing any ice from building up on the roof’s edge. In addition to being incredibly effective, it is also simple and affordable for any homeowner looking for a simple solution without investing in more expensive treatments or repairs. When you use a professional-grade product, always follow the label’s directions to avoid misuse.

Ice dams putting a strain on the gutters of a residential home
If an ice dam forms, there are many ways you can keep them from damaging your home.

What to Do About Roof Ice Dams

To protect your home from the devastating effects of ice dams, you must be aware of their formation and act quickly. If you notice an ice dam forming on your roof, there are several steps you can take to prevent damage.

Remove Snow From Your Roof. Removing snow from your roof can be a tedious task that you may want to avoid. However, roof rakes are an easy and effective way to rid your roof of excess snow, preventing the formation of ice dams. Utilizing a roof rake to keep your roof snow-free eliminates these risks and ensures your home is safe from damage.

Break Up the Ice Dam. Breaking up an ice dam might be necessary sometimes, but it can be tricky and potentially hazardous. The most effective way to break up the existing ice dam is to use a blunt tool, such as a hammer. However, do take caution, as you don’t want to damage the shingles while doing so. Another option is to try melting the ice with warm water, but this should only be attempted by someone knowledgeable about roof maintenance or a professional roofer. When done correctly, both methods can help reduce the blockage on your roof and protect it from further damage.

Create Channels for Water to Drain. Creating channels to drain water off the roof after an ice dam has been broken is an important step in preventing damage to your home. Removing any excess snow or ice blocking the water flow can guide the melting water away from your property and prevent further pooling or refreezing. Additionally, you can use a hose to melt away any large chunks of remaining ice and open up a safe pathway for the water to follow. 

Use a De-Icer. De-icing your roof can be a great way to prevent ice dams from forming. A product like calcium chloride can easily melt away existing ice and stop new layers from becoming an issue. Before you consider this approach, it is important to read the manufacturer’s instructions to use the product safely and correctly. Doing your research beforehand means you will avoid any derailments as far as your de-icing efforts go.

Call a Professional. During the cold season, ice dams are hardly an uncommon occurrence. Fortunately, the best way to prevent further damage to your roof is by seeking professional help, depending on the severity and size of your ice dam. 

A roofing contractor or an ice dam removal specialist will guarantee a more reliable job and offer comprehensive solutions and advice on better preparing your home for future winters. Additionally, these professionals have the right resources and safety gear to protect themselves and your home from any hazards involved with removing the frozen chunks of snow. 

Whatever method you opt for, your ice dam problem will be a thing of the past!

Ice dams can cause damage to roofs
When you need help handling an ice dam, contact your local professional.

If You’re Experiencing Problems With Ice Dams, Call PuroClean Today!

Ice dams can cause serious damage to your home, but the good news is that help is only a phone call away. If you have experienced any destruction from ice dams, you should contact PuroClean right away. Our professional technicians will be able to come and assess the damage, create cost estimates, and begin the restoration process so that you can return to enjoying your home as quickly as possible. Rest assured that PuroClean has extensive training and years of experience restoring houses damaged by ice dams. Don’t let ice dams ruin your home! call PuroClean Emergency Services of Dayton, Ohio at 937-401-9700 or Cincinnati, Ohio at 513-897-8990, or visit our website.

Last edited on 27th of November 2023