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How To Prevent Ice Dams On Roof

Effective Ice Dam Prevention Products

Preventing ice dams: Experts show you how to clear snow from roof before thaw | ABC7 Chicago
  • Calcium Chloride Ice Melt Use ice melt as a filler in pantyhose positioned along ice dam areas. You can also toss the tablets up on the roof, but its more efficient to climb a ladder and spread them along eaves. Be sure to use calcium chloride ice melt specifically formulated for safe rooftop use.
  • Ice Belts These thin aluminum panels are installed along the roof line to help eaves shed snow, but how well do ice belts work? Theyre best for protecting limited areas because they can develop ice dams above the top of panel edging.
  • Heat Cables Available at home improvement centers, roof heating cables usually come in 100-foot lengths. Installation can be a DIY project , but you might feel more comfortable hiring an electrician. Keep in mind that heat cables add to your monthly winter electric bill.

Top Three Prevention Tips

1. Keep the attic cold

To prevent ice dams from forming in the first place, you have to stop excess heat from getting out of the house through your attic.

Ask yourself this: how insulated is your attic space?

In most homes, heat loss by air leakage through the attic is the major cause of heat transfer to the roof. Insulation is often overlooked in this part of the house and there is little space for it.

How To Stop Future Ice Dams

The resolution for stopping future ice dams is a combination of ventilation intake and exhaust and isolation in the attic to keep it cooler and to stop warm air from getting into the attic and warming it, Noffke said.

“Most ice dams are going to occur because the attic isn’t vented properly, and there’s not enough insulation to keep the heat from the house in the house rather than in the attic,” Klimas said.

To spot a possible ventilation problem, Staszak said homeowners should look in the attic at the nails coming through their roof decking. If the nails are rusty, he said, that’s a sign that there’s been quite a bit of moisture and condensation up there over the years, due to poor ventilation.

Noffke and Klimas also both suggested having ice and water shields installed.

“They don’t prevent ice dams from occurring, but they do help protect from any damage that can happen when they do occur,” Klimas said.

Noffke also suggested installing heating cables on trouble spots on the roof.

Dean is planning to get heating cables, and is also considering contacting a gutter specialist in springtime to “provide more insight.”

Anyone planning to have this kind of work done on their roof later on should take a picture of how it looks currently, with snow or ice, Noffke said.

“That would help me pinpoint where the issues are,” he said.

“Even if everything is perfect, we live in Wisconsin, and this has been a crazy winter,” Klimas said. ” can happen to anybody.”

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What Causes Different Temperatures On The Roof Surfaces

Primarily, the heat that melts the snow comes from the house, especially the attic area. In unlikely circumstances, the heat from the sun may cause the difference in temperatures leading to the melting of snow.

The sun warms the roof, or when the attic temperatures are above freezing, the warmer temperatures of shingles cause the snow to melt and freezes again on the colder eaves.

How To Prevent Ice Dams And Icicles

How to Prevent and Remove Ice Dams on Your Roof

Posted by James Fick

What Are Ice Dams? Ice dams are formed when heat from the inside of a home escapes into the attic and warms the roof decking during the winter. This heat, combined with heat from the sun, can melt snow on the roof. Melting snow on the upper roof and in the valleys then runs down toward the eaves as water. When it reaches the cold eaves and gutters it refreezes. The continual thaw and re-freeze process creates ice dams. The result is water backing up under the roof shingles or behind fascia boards where it can soak through the roof decking or wall sheathing, causing damage to attics, ceilings and walls.

Ice Dam DefenseThere are three ways to defend against the damage ice dams cause: insulation, ventilation and water-proofing shingle underlayment. All three work together. Insulation keeps heat from escaping from your homes living space into your attic. Ventilation removes the heat and helps keep the roof deck evenly cool to help prevent snow from melting on the roof. Finally, waterproofing underlayment, such as ice & water seal is laid across the roof before roof shingles are applied. Most ice & water seal underlayment are warranted against leaks from dams that do form on the roof. With existing roofs, waterproofing underlayment is only an option if you remove the existing roofing or are building a new addition. Regardless, increasing the insulation R-value in the attic is always possible and ventilation can usually be added to your attic easily.

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What Are Ice Dams And Why Are They Bad

Ice dams are common in the northern United States and Canada. The icicles and ridges of ice on the roof can damage gutters, loosen roof shingles, and cause water to backup inside the home.

What causes ice dams?

When heat rises up through the home, it warms the underside of the roof, causing snow on the roof to melt. The melting snow flows down the roof and refreezes on the unheated overhang . When thick ice forms on the edge of the roof, this prevents melting snow and rainwater from running off the roof. Instead, the water often leaks under the roof shingles and causes water damage, including stained and sagging ceilings, peeling paint, warped floors, and wet insulation.

Ice dams form on the roof, so how do they affect the basement?

Melting snow and ice, combined with rainwater causes the soil around your home to become saturated. Water dripping off the roof adds to the problem and the water that has accumulated around the foundation can leak into the basement through leaky windows or cracks in the foundation. Check out these tips on how to deal with water in the basement.

If you’re dealing with a leaky basement, installing a sump pump and interior drainage system in the basement can help prevent flooding. If you have an existing sump pump, make sure it’s in good working condition. Consider installing a basement dehumidifier to prevent mold growth and musty odors caused by excess moisture.

Contact Our Roof Ice Melt Experts

At HotEdge, we understand how frustrating it can be to see that falling snow is causing a serious issue to the structural integrity of the roof of your home. Our ice melt system provides you peace of mind knowing that your roof is safe and will not be damaged by the snow or buildup of ice. You and your family can enjoy the winter wonderland without worrying what the damage will be once the sun heats everything back up and the roof is revealed once again.

Contact HotEdge to learn more about our ice melt systems and how they can help prevent ice dams on your home. We are here to help you rest easy during the cold winter months.

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Negative Consequences Of Ice Dams

Although ice dams may be somewhat difficult for homeowners to spot, they can cause a surprising amount of damage. Roof and structural repairs after an ice dam can potentially cost thousands of dollars, depending on the extent of the damage. The longer the ice dam sits, the more problems it can create. Although much of the immediate risk residents face goes away with winter, the long-term concerns resulting from water damage to the structure may linger for months or years. The potential for structural and physical harm should prompt homeowners to take action as soon as they think an ice dam is forming.

A Complete Guide To Winter Gutter Maintenance And Ice Dam Prevention

What you should be doing to prevent ice dams forming on your roof

When you have a winter season, its impact on your home will produce ice dams it is a problem many have faced and corrected. The build-up of undrained water starts ice dams to creep from the gutters up the roof, but there is a solution to prevent this problem from multiplying. Installing water protection and gutter protection is the most important thing you can do to protect your roofing systems good health. We want to share our solutions to maintain your system through the gutter systems available and how they will benefit you and your home. As part of our educational information, we will also share ways to keep your gutter clean before the winter freeze reducing problems in the long run. Gutters will leak from time to time and sag if they havent been adequately maintained, and there are ways to fix and avoid the problem that we will detail here. When a problem has gotten beyond the point of maintenance remediation, we can show you how to remove an ice dam without damaging your roof or gutters.

With the onset of the winter season comes the risk of ice damming and the problems it can cause your roof. Although many people are familiar with the term, they are unsure of how an ice dam is created, how it can damage their property, and how they can prevent them from forming.

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What Causes Ice Dams On Some Roofs And Not Others

You can drive down any residential street in Pensylvania and see ice dams on some roofs but not others. Snow and ice are everywhere, so why are some roofs unaffected? First, understand how moisture in snow or cold wet weather forms an ice ridge rather than melting off the roof.

Normally, snow accumulates on your roof during winter. The underside is exposed to the heat of the attic. Yes, the attic is cold but it’s not as cold as the outdoor air. What should happen is a gradual melt all the way down the roof . If there are cold spots in the attic just underneath and near the edge of the roof, this heat differential turns the melting snow into an ice sheet. Before you know it, there’s a huge ice dam that just keeps getting bigger.

Preventing Ice Dams Through Ventilation

Buildings with proper attic ventilation typically dont have to worry about ice dams, and the reason is simpleby circulating cool air inside the attic space, the roof surfaces dont hit freezing temperatures and cannot melt snow on the roof. Although it seems counterintuitive, a cold attic fights against ice dams, and a warm attic is at a much higher risk.

There are a few ways to better ventilate your attic to prevent ice dams and roof ice damage:

  • In the insulated space between the rafters, you can create an airflow from the soffit to the roofs peak with a soffit-and-ridge ventilation system. Once installed, the baffles hold back the insulation by one to two inches to create a channel for air to flow past the insulation. The insulation baffles paired with a ridge vent allow air to flow up, creating a continuous path to the outdoor air.
  • If you dont want to install a soffit-and-ridge vent system, you can still use either gable or soffit vents for air intake and use a conventional roof vent to exhaust the air. Typically, an attic vent system should provide one sq. foot of ventilation per 150 sq. feet of the attics floor space. That one sq. foot should be the total area of a vents openings minus the screening or any other obstructions.

Adequate ventilation of your attic or the rafter spaces helps keep the roof deck cold enough that the snow lying on top wont melt, which prevents ice dams from forming.

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How To Keep Ice From Forming On Your Roof

To keep icicles and ice dams from forming at the edge of your roof, you have a few options:

Removing snow from the overhanging parts of the roof is an effective method. No snow means no ice dams! This takes time and energy, however. And if youd rather entrust the chore to a specialist, be prepared to pay.

Installing electric heating cables is another proven method. The cables keep ice from forming and allow water to run off normally. You can choose an automated system, which ensures that the cables switch on by themselves whenever conditions are conducive to ice formation. The rest of the time, theyll stay switched off. That way, you cant leave them on by mistake and waste electricity.

Permanent Ice Dam Solutions

Roof Ice Dam Prevention Tips

If youve done any prior research on the problem of ice dams on your roof, you know that your home and attic need to be properly insulated and air sealed.

And its true: Insufficient insulation and unsealed air leaks are the core issues that cause destructive ice dams to regularly form on your roof in the winter. And fixing those issues is the only permanent ice dam solution.

All other ice dam fixes are temporaryincluding a new roof.

Heres why home insulation and professional air sealing solve the ice dam problem for good.

Upgrading your home insulation

Home insulation works by creating a thermal boundary between the interior of your home and outside.

When a home is under-insulated, or when older insulation starts to wear down, that thermal boundary decreases, causing your home to feel uncomfortableeven drafty or damp. In the winter, insufficient insulation can allow heat to escape through the walls, ceilings, and attics of your home into the great outdoors.

Basically, youre spending money to warm your home, but that precious heat is being lost due to insufficient insulation and home air leaks. And when that heat escapes through your attic and the roof of your house, snow and ice on the roof melts and refreezes, causing ice dams to form.

Professional air sealing

Professional air sealing is also a must to prevent ice dams for good.

Heres how these permanent ice dam solutions have a lasting effect on your whole home:

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What Is An Ice Dam

An ice dam is a large patch of built-up ice that forms on the roof of your house when snow and ice thaw and refreeze due to fluctuations in temperature or sun exposure.

Ice dams can look like icicles hanging from your roofline or gutters, or they might appear to be a block or ledge of ice on the roof that might be holding up, or damming up, additional snow.

Ice dams might seem like a normal display of winter weather, but they can actually cause major damage to your home and are a symptom of a larger problem. Well dive more into how they can harm your homes structure later in this guide.

Get powerful tips each month to keep your home healthy and cozy in every season.

Prevent Ice Dams Before It Is Too Late

Image source: St. Cloud Times

The longer you wait to dispose of ice dams, the greater your odds of encountering expensive problems increase.

The best way to remove existing ice dams yourself is with chemical ice melt. If you don’t fancy your salt-spreading skills, look towards hiring an ice dam removal specialist equipped with a pressurized steamer.

Preventing ice dams long-term is often as simple as bolstering your attic insulation and ventilation. However, metal roofing, roof snow removal, and heated cables can also prove effective ice dam prevention measures. provides cost guides, comparisons, and term cheat sheets for hundreds of remodeling, installation and repair projects.

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Use Secondary Strategies And Ice Dam Prevention Products

A cold roof isnt always a perfect solution. During winters with heavy snowfall, you may get ice dams anyway. Or ice dams may consistently form at the foot of roof valleys because they fill with windblown snow. And some sections of the roof may be impossible to keep cold. Thats when you have to call on secondary strategies and ice dam prevention products to prevent ice dam damage.

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Can You Remove Ice Dams From A Glass Roof

How to Avoid Problematic Roof Ice Dams

Yes: it is possible to remove ice dams from the canopy. Its complicated and dangerous. This is another example of how ice dam removal is a skill. They were hesitant to make their first glass roof, but their client said they called all the other ice dam removal companies in sister cities.

Gutter coversHow much should you expect to pay for gutter covers? Gutter guards cost $ to $ per foot for the material alone. If you buy your own gutter covers, it will cost $ to $ per foot to hire a mechanic to install them. When you hire a full-service gutter protection company to install complex fences, you can factor in costs ranging from $ to $ per foot.Why should you consider gutter covers?Reâ¦

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How To Safely Remove Ice Dams

Removing ice dams is critical to ensure that your home stays in a healthy condition during the winter. When water gets caught between the melting point and the ice dam, it sits on your roof for an extended period of time and will eventually find its way through your roof and into your home. This can potentially cause serious amounts of damage.

When it comes to removing ice dams, the only way to do it right and to ensure that you dont cause any damage to your roof is to use steam. At First American roofing, this is the only way well ever remove an ice dam, so you can rest assured that well take care of the issue all while keeping your home in perfect condition.

So, whether its the winter months and youre in need of some assistance quickly, or you need to keep someone in mind if an ice dam ever does affect your home, First American is your first and only choice for ice dam removal. Contact us today to get started!


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