Preventing Roof Ice Dams

heavy snow on roof

The formation of ice dams on the roof can spell disaster for any homeowner and is an issue that must be solved quickly.  Ice dams are the name referring to the buildup of ice on the eaves of the roof which can cause standing water to be caught on the shingles.

How do ice dams form?


An ice dam forms as heat from the home escapes through the roof and causes the snow that is on top of the roof to melt.  As the meltwater runs down the roof, it cools when it hits the parts of the roof that are not heated from the home, usually the eaves of the roof, and refreezes, causing the buildup of more and more ice until an ice dam has formed and has completely blocked the flow of melting water from the roof.

How to avoid ice dams?

When water is left standing on the roof, it has the potential to erode shingles and leak into the home, cause great amounts of water damage to both the roof of the home and possibly the interior of the home as well. But this damage can be avoided if the homeowner will take the appropriate steps in avoiding the buildup of ice dams.

  1. Secure the attic insulation. Insulating the attic of the home will allow less heat to escape and thereby largely eliminate the staggered snowmelt that leads to ice dams.
  2. Create ventilation. Both on the roof itself and from the attic through the roof at the corners, creating and installing ventilation will allow for the warm air to escape the sides of the home while allowing for cold air to run up the length of the roof to keep the snow cold and safe.
  3. Cap any hatches on the roof. Ceiling fans, attic hatches and other such openings allow for warm air to escape in droves. Sealing or capping these openings effectively will greatly reduce the amount of melt-water that has the potential to form an ice dam.
  4. Install snow brackets. Snow clips will help to retain the snow on the roof and will discourage the formation of ice dams by holding snow in place and allowing for an even and natural melt.

How to do a Roof Inspection

Getting into the habit of inspecting your roof can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Your roof is what protects your home from Mother Nature and it’s important that you take the time to inspect your roof and fix any problems with it before extensive damage occurs.

Throughout the years you will find that your roofing material will start to wear down, just like any other material used in your home. Some people put off repairing their roof because they don’t want to incur the cost of the repairs. The cost of repairing your roof will be minimal when compared to the cost of repairing damage that can occur if you do not take the time to fix your roof now.

First, you should figure out when you are going to inspect your roof. You want to make sure that you are looking at your roof once a year if not twice a year. If you live in an area with mild weather conditions you should be able to get by with only inspecting your roof once a year. If you’ve had a big variance in weather or any extreme weather, you should make sure that you check your roof at least twice a year.

Second, once you get up on your roof you should make sure that you know what to look for based on the material that is used for your roof. If you have asphalt roofing you will want to look for buildup of the granules from the tiles in your gutter. A buildup of these granules shows that the tiles are wearing down quickly. If you have wooden shingles look for signs of dry rot or any warping that may have taken place. If you have slate, clay tile, or cement shingles it is important that you inspect them to find any ice damage, broken shingles, chipped shingles, or missing pieces.

If you find that a third of your roof is damaged, it’s probably time to call a professional. You want to make sure that your roof is in good working order year round to ensure it is always there to protect you and your home.  Roof Consultants are also available to inspect your roof. They know the code requirements and best roofing practices to ensure a proper inspection.