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What Is Ice Dam On Roof

Ice Dams: What Are They How Do They Form And How To Get Rid Of Them

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

If there is one thing you must be prepared for when living in Midwest winters, keeping your home safe from the elements. The part of your home that takes the brunt of the force from winter storms and snow? Your roof. During the cold winter months, your roof can sustain all types of damage. Large amounts of snow can cause harm to the roof, as can blistering winter winds, especially when accompanied by hail and sleet.

However, today were going to talk about another roof issue caused by extreme winter weather:ice dams. Well discuss what they are, how you can get rid of them without damaging your home, and finally, how to keep them from forming in the first place.

Option : Attack The Root Cause

Ultimately, the goal is to prevent the ice dams from forming. A thermal analysis of your attic will often reveal whats allowing the temperature of the roof to raise higher at the edges than on the eaves. By stabilizing this temperature you can stop ice dams before they occur.

This can be done with venting, protection from interior warmth, insulation or a combination of these factors. A good starting place is to look for things like bathroom fans or dryer lines that vent into the attic instead of the outside.

Do Gutter Guards Cause Ice Dams

There is a common misconception that ice dams form due to gutter guards. This isnt the case at all.

Gutter guards prevent leaves and other debris from entering your gutters, but they do not stop ice accumulation on top of your roof.

Ice will still build up in your eavestroughs even if you have gutter guard because heat escapes through gaps and cracks found anywhere around or within the structure of a home.

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Does Insurance Cover Ice Dams

If an ice dam damages your roof, dont fret. Its common for homeowners insurance to cover ice dam damage. American Familys standard homeowners policy covers sudden and accidental damage from leaking roofs and damage from weight of ice, snow or sleet.

If you have more concerns about your roof insurance coverage or youd like to learn how your homeowners insurance protects your roof and everything under it, connect with your American Family Insurance agent theyve got the answers you need.

Need Help With Your Ice Dams

Ice Damming in Iowa  Des Moines Ankeny Iowa Roofer ...

Ice dams should always be removed by professionals who understand winter roof safety and how to protect the shingles from further damage. Plus, once they have removed your current ice dam, they will need to address the underlying cause before another ice dam occurs. If you need to reach out to a professional, consider IKOs Contractor Locator, which may suggest roofers right in your area.

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Measure Your Attic Insulation Level

While youre in the attic, check the depth of your attic insulation. Upgrade attic insulation to an R-value of about R-40. Building codes require about 12-in. to 14-in. of fiberglass or cellulose. Add more if you have less than eight inches and have had ice dam problems in the past.

Blown-in cellulose and fiberglass are usually better than hand-placed batts, because they fill more tightly around rafters, joists and other obstructions, leaving fewer gaps. Its usually worth hiring a professional for this job you probably wont save much by doing it yourself. However, if you cant find a good price, you can rent a blowing machine from a rental yard or home center. Often, the use of the machine is free with the purchase of insulation.

What Causes Ice Dams To Form

If snow collects on a roof with uneven surface temperatures, it may form ice dams. This happens when the steeper parts of the roof are warmer than the lower edges: the warmer temperatures cause the snow on the upper part to melt. As the water trickles down to the lower, colder portion of the roof it refreezes. This is called a freeze-thaw cycle, which creates a dam that prevents any water from exiting the roof.

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How To Deal With Ice Building Up In Your Eavestroughs

Ice dams are a common occurrence during the winter months. They can be caused by snow and ice buildup on your roof or near your gutters and eavestroughs, which then melts and refreezes when it comes in contact with warmer air coming from inside of your house.

This is a guide to help you understand what an ice dam is, how they form, and some ways to deal with them!

Before we get into how to deal with ice dam building up in your gutters and eavestroughs, lets start with what ice dams are and how they form.

How To Get Rid Of Ice Dams

What is an Ice Dam and How Can You Prevent & Remove It – IKO

Icicles may be pretty but they can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back up into your house. Learn these fast fixes for ice dam removal, long term repair, and prevention tips.

Icicles hanging along the eaves of your house may look beautiful, but they spell trouble. That’s because the same conditions that allow icicles to formsnow-covered roofs and freezing weatheralso lead to ice dams: thick ridges of solid ice that build up along the eaves.

Pro2Pro Tip: To keep ahead of ice dam damage, snap photos where you see frosty buildup. Use the pictures to help target an interior inspection, during which you should check for leaks.

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Do You Have An Ice Dam

Most ice dams develop on the edge of your roof, but they may also form in other locations, depending on the slope, orientation and style of your roof. Be sure to monitor the weather and your roof for signs of ice dam formations.

  • Look closely at the icicles around the exterior of your house. If the icicles are confined to the gutters and there is no water trapped behind them, then an ice dam has likely not formed. Nonetheless, icicles can be a precursor to ice dams. Depending on their location and size, icicles may also pose a danger if they fall off. Whenever possible, and if safe to do so, remove icicles from the exterior of your home, making sure not to stand directly beneath them. If you cannot safely reach the icicles from the ground, consider hiring a contractor to assist in their removal.
  • Check for water stains or moisture in your attic or along the ceiling of exterior walls of your house. Water stains or moisture may be an indication that an ice dam has formed and water has penetrated the roof membrane.

Ice Dam Prevention: 10 Best Products To Protect Your Roof

Have you noticed large icicles forming along the eaves of your roof? This may be a sign that your roof may be at risk for ice dams and all the associated damage that they bring.

Problems with an ice dam roof can vary greatly: from torn off gutters and falling shingles to peeling paint, ruined flooring and stained ceilings, if the water gets into the house.

Another highly undesirable consequence is wet attic insulation, which will likely loose its R value, and cause serious mold issues.

To avoid all of these potential troubles, it is essential to focus on preventing ice dams.

If you are a DIY inclined homeowner, you can buy and install most of these products yourself, or hire a contractor. However, average ice dams / roof snow removal will set you back at least $750. Prices in Massachusetts during snowmageddon of 2014 went above $1400 for a roof snow removal!

Here are 10 the best, tried and true products that you can use to eliminate or minimize ice dams.

If you have lots of soft fresh snow on the roof, its best to remove it before it melts and subsequently freezes, forming ice dams. One of the most efficient tool to do this is with a snow rake like the Avalanche. Avalanche is easy on the back, and can be used by older homeowners!

Check out how easy it is to use:

The Avalanche is very easy to use, and requires very energy remove large amounts of snow off the roof fast, even for older homeowners.

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What Should I Do If I Have An Ice Dam

It is recommended to reach out to a roofing professional to safely remove any ice dams. The first step they will take is to remove the snow. An extendable snow rake can help to gently scrape any snow off of the roof. They may also use a soft mallet to break up ice in small sections at a time, which could cause the ice to crack off in large chunks that crash down. It is important to remove snow and ice safely and effectively without risking damage to the roof or other parts of your property, such as gutters, windows, siding or landscaping. You can find a qualified roofing professional to safely remove ice dams by entering your location in GAF’s contractor locator.

How To Remove Ice Dams


Once an ice dam forms on your roof, it is imperative that you take the proper steps to remove the ice in a manner that will not cause further damage to your home or roofing material. There are a lot of wrong ways to remove an ice dam so, if you choose to utilize a method we dont mention below, wed recommend you talk with a local roofing company first as supplemental expertise.

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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.

Family Handyman

What Is An Ice Dam Protection Membrane

A water and ice-dam protection membrane is installed to prevent leaks when wind-driven rain or water trapped behind an ice dam travels upslope and laterally under shingle roof coverings. Water and ice-dam protection membranes do not prevent ice dams from forming and should not be solely relied on to prevent leaks.

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Four Main Causes Of Ice Dams

The Four Main Causes of Ice Dams

There are a number of factors that work together to form an ice dam on your roof. The main factors that cause an ice dam to form on your roof are namely snow, heat, and cold. However, there are factors inside of the home and attic that start the actual process that you should be aware of.

Here is what you should inspect to prevent ice dams:

  • Uneven Heating A number of issues could be causing uneven heating in your home, including leaking duct connections, leaking return vents, damaged or fallen insulation, kinks in your ductwork, leaks in your filter slot area, and rugs or furniture covering your air conditioner vents.
  • Improper Roof Ventilation Improper roof ventilation is caused by either deteriorating insulation, damaged shingles, or rusting attic fasteners.
  • Improper Insulation Improper insulation can cause moisture buildup in your attic, and when allowed to sit for long periods of time can cause rust, roof damage, and mold and bacteria.
  • Heat Loss by Air Leakage Air leakage occurs when air from outside enters your home and your conditioned air escapes, resulting in poor indoor air quality. Air leakage also can contribute to moisture problems and further damage or health issues if left for too long.

Metal Ice Belt Roof Panels

How to Treat and Prevent Ice Dams | Ask This Old House

The truth is, the best solution for ice dams is removing the weak point an asphalt shingles roof. It is the design and the way shingles are installed that make them prone to ice dam leaks.

Shingles are a water shedding system, which means water runs down the roof, and in that case, shingles work. As soon as water starts traveling UP, the roof leaks. This is exactly what happens with ice dams .

If you switch to a continuous metal roof system, you will eliminate a way for water to get into your roof! But, metal roofs are expensive. If you do not want to install an entire new metal roof, you can put metal only where it is really needed to prevent ice dams along the eaves. This is called Ice Belt Metal Panels.

Ice belt metal panels are typically short and wide , and are made of thin gauge aluminum. They can be field formed out of 24 wide aluminum trim coil, used for siding, or professional made is a sheet metal shop. This does not affect the quality.

The only purpose of ice belt panels is to shed ice and snow off the roof edge, and if Ice Dams do form, they cant leak into the roof.

The Ice Belt can be installed either directly over your shingles or by removing several rows of shingles along the eaves, installing synthetic underlayment , and then installing the panels.

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Preventing Ice Dams By Insulating

In addition to improving attic ventilation, the next best method to lower temperatures against the roof deck is by insulating the ceiling in living spaces below the attic or against the inside surface of the roof. If you have an open attic, this means insulating the floor of the attic. If you have a finished second-story in which a finished ceiling is directly against the roof, this means insulating the rafter spaces . These methods of insulating will prevent heat from rising up to the roof deck and heating it to a point where it can melt snow lying on the roof.

Sealing air channels from the living space below the attic is just as important as the insulation itself. Gaps around plumbing pipes and around chimneys can be a significant source of heat flow into the attic from the spaces below. Seal these gaps as part of the overall insulation strategy.

The benefit of a comprehensive insulation effort is that it not only helps prevent ice dams, but it also reduces energy costs. But be aware that insulation alone rarely is enough to prevent all ice dams. It needs to be done in conjunction with improved ventilation.

Remove The Ice Dams Yourself

Alright, you dont want to spend your cash on a professional service. This means youll have to remove the problematic ice dams yourself.

But you know this will mean climbing up your roof on a slippery, ice-cold ladder and working on a frozen roof!

Still, want to go ahead? Fine, heres what you can do to remove the ice dams yourself.

You can smash them with a hammer and chisel (but be careful not to break your brittle shingles in the process. You can also use heat cables and ice dam steamers to defrost and remove the ice formation.

Youll be lucky if the weather conditions have improved, as this will make your job easier.

Be extremely careful when climbing up the ladder, as one wrong footing can lead to a fall. Put on a hard helmet and non-slip booths before you climb.

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How Can You Remove Ice Dams

Number one rule, dont try this yourself. If an ice dam forms around the edges of your roof, DO NOT try to remove it yourself. If you chip at it with an axe or hammer, you are likely to punch a hole through your shingles or your gutter. If you try using a chemical ice melt product, again you could cause serious damage to your shingles. And dont even consider getting out a heat gun or torch. You know where that might lead. Even if you consider yourself pretty handy, this is one time when you should really call a professional. You may take a few steps, such as using a snow rake to remove snow from the roof, to prevent ice dams from forming, but once theyre there, its time to call in the professionals.

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Roof Cat Roofing Regina

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Providing Regina residential roof repair and roofing installation services. Over time, weather can cause damage to sloped roofs. RoofCat Roofing specializes in asphalt shingle installation and repair. As a full-service professional roofing company, we’re dedicated to our trade.

We provide value and impeccable service at a fair price while keeping safety in mind.

Your roof protects you and your family from the elements. Its important that you choose the best professional roofers Regina has to offer.


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What Is An Ice Dam On A Roof

What is an ice dam on a roof?

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining. As water backs up behind the dam, it can leak through the roof and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and other areas.

How do ice dams form?

Ice dams are formed by an interaction between snow cover, outside temperatures, and heat lost through the roof. Specifically, there must be snow on the roof, warm portions of the upper roof , and cold portions of the lower roof . Melted snow from the warmer areas will refreeze when it flows down to the colder portions, forming an ice dam.

Although the primary contributor to snow melting is heat loss from the buildings interior, solar radiation can also provide sufficient heat to melt snow on a roof. Gutters do not cause ice dams to form, contrary to popular belief. Gutters do, however, help concentrate ice from the dam in a vulnerable area, where parts of the house can peel away under the weight of the ice and come crashing to the ground.

Ice dams are problematic because they force water to leak from the roof into the building envelope. This may lead to:


Keep the entire roof cold. This can be accomplished by implementing the following measures:

Prevention and Removal Methods to Avoid

For more information contact Inspec-Pro Home Inspection at 613.606.1901 or email us at .


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