How To Prevent Ice Dams


Those of us who have experienced a harsh winter know the damage wintry weather can do to homes. For homeowners, one of the most dreaded winter hazards is the ice dam.

Ice dams are just one of many hazards homeowners have to deal with during the winter months. If you’re lucky enough to be unfamiliar with the term, an ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining off. Ice damns are especially tricky given that they can form in as little as 24 hours and grow to weigh over 1,000 pounds seemingly overnight, causing billions of dollars of damage to homes every year. 

With the help of The Andover Companies, discover the causes for and some steps on how to prevent ice dams.

How Do Ice Dams Form?

Following a snowfall, heat from the sun or from inside your home warms your roof, causing snow and ice to begin to melt. Water flow from melted snow and ice then refreezes when it reaches the colder roof edge, forming an ice dam. The ice dam prevents further water flow from draining away from your home and causes it to get backed up behind the dam. This creates the potential for that water to leak into the home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas. 

How To Prevent Ice Dams

In order to do your best to prevent a dam from forming on your roof, we recommend doing these four key things: 

  1. Insulation – Add insulation to the attic floor to keep heat where it belongs—in your home. 
  2. Ventilation – Pair a ridge vent with continuous soffit vents to circulate cold air under the entire roof and flush out warmer attic air.
  3. Roofing Material – Hire a professional to install an ice shield along the edge of the roof and underneath shingles to stop leaks.
  4. Snow Removal – Standing on the ground, use an expanding roof rake to remove as much snow as possible from the edges of the roof.

Warning Signs

Despite our best efforts, ice dams can sometimes seem to appear without warning. Your house is at the highest risk of developing an ice damn when: 

  • Temperatures are below freezing
  • There’s been a heavy snow (6+ inches)
  • Icicles are hanging from your roof and gutters

Potential Ice Dam Damage

No matter what size an ice dam is, it can cause a lot of damage to your home. Most typically, ice dams cause: 

  • Loose shingles
  • Torn gutters
  • Peeling paint
  • Warped floors
  • Stained and saggy ceilings
  • Mold and mildew
  • Soggy insulation

What To Do if You Develop an Ice Dam

Even with the best preventative efforts, it’s still possible for an ice dam to form. If that occurs, contract a licensed, insured professional to remove it. It’s not recommended for you to climb out on your roof to try to mitigate the situation, as you could cause more damage to your roof or, worse, fall and get seriously injured. 

If you’re a homeowner, be sure to check in on your roof this winter and keep an eye out for potential dam formation. And, if you haven’t already, be sure you know what damages would be covered in your homeowners policy if you’re ever to fall victim to an ice dam. If you’re a Feltner Group customer, contact us today to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need as temperatures begin to drop.