Preventing Ice Dams on Your Roof

Ice Dams

While they might look like something straight out of a Christmas card, ice formations on your roof aren’t so pretty when they cause major water damage in your home. Preventing ice dams is key to taking care of your roof during heavy snows and throughout the cold season. Read on to find out how.

What is an ice dam?

Ice dams occur when melting roof snow refreezes at the edge of your roof. It is most likely to happen when a blanket of snow is covering your roof, and outside temperatures are below freezing. The snow that is directly in contact with a warm roof begins to melt because the top layer acts as insulation against the frigid outdoor temperature. A dam forms when this melting snow freezes at the roof’s edge, where it is colder, causing melting snow and water to back up behind it. A tell-tale sign of an ice dam is the appearance of icicles on the edges of your gutters and roof.

Why are ice dams harmful?

The resulting ice dam can get to a point where the melting snow builds up underneath shingles and leaks into the roof, causing mold issues. You might also begin to notice leaks or water spots in your walls or on your ceilings. Ice dams also can ruin your attic’s insulation.

How can you prevent ice dams?

1. Keep your roof cold.
You might not intend to heat your attic, but heat rises. Check the interior attic space for any gaps in insulation. These are most commonly found in:

  • An opening for a folding attic staircase
  • Recessed lighting for the ceiling below
  • Improperly installed bathroom vents leading to the attic

You can also add insulation to the attic floor, if needed.

2. Add outside vents to your attic.
If warm air gets into your attic, make sure that it has a quick route out. Your attic should be properly ventilated so that all heat is quickly dissipated and the interior stays the same temperature as your roof. Hire a team of professionals to add ridge vents and soffit vents, if you don’t already have them.

3. Ensure your gutters are clean before snow starts falling.
Long before the season’s first snowflake, make sure that your gutters are free and clear of leaves, sticks and dirt. If the water from melting snow does not have a clear path to drain, you could experience ice dams, even if your attic is properly ventilated and your roof is cold.

Your roof is all that is standing between you and the elements. Take care of it and it will protect you in the fiercest winter weather. Call our team at Knockout Roofing to help you make sure your home is safe from ice dams.