If you live in a snowy location, then there is a good chance of ice dams forming on top of your roof during winter. Ice dams can cause roof damage if not taken care of as soon as possible but luckily, there are some preventative steps that you can take to minimize the risks.

Understanding how ice dams form will also help you in this process, so make sure to read on, find out why they form and what you can do to prevent them.

Understanding the Formation of Ice Dams on a Roof

Ice dams on the roof can form when the warm air from the attic meets the snow on the roof and the cold outside temperatures. 

When this happens, the snow will usually melt and the melted snow will then cause water droplets to run down the roof. Eventually, and if the temperatures are low enough, this water will refreeze at the edge of the roof. 

If this cycle continues to happen, layers of ice will start to build up and create an ice dam on your roof. The water from the melted snow will no longer be able to run off of your roof as the ice dam will prevent it. 

An ice dam, in turn, will put a lot of extra weight on your roof, leading to potential roof damage and leaks inside the home. 

Luckily, there are some prevention methods homeowners can use to stop ice dams from forming on their roofs. 


Preventing Ice Dams From Forming On Your Roof


  • Clean the Snow on Your Roof

Since homeowners should under no circumstance climb on top of the roof to clean the snow, there is a great alternative to do it from the ground. You can rake the lower three to four feet of the roof from the ground by using a lightweight roof rake. 

This should be done immediately after a snowfall as the snow will still be soft enough to rake. By clearing the snow, you will be reducing the chance for ice buildup on your roof and thus prevent ice dams from forming. 


  • Add Attic insulation

Since the main culprit of ice dams is the heat that comes through the attic, it is best to stop this process from happening altogether. If you want to stop the heat transfer through the roof, you can add an extra 8 to 10-inch layer of attic insulation. 

Besides preventing heat transfer through the roof, the insulation will also retain the heat inside your home, cutting down on heating costs during the winter. 


  • Seal Interior Airflow Leaks

In some cases, extra attic insulation might still not be sufficient. The warm air from your living space might also enter the attic through gaps and vents, making both the attic and the roof too warm. 

The best solution is to eliminate the interior airflow by sealing all the gaps around sewer vent pipes with insulating foam. You can also have the bathroom and dryer vents rerouted from the attic through your home’s exterior wall. 


  • Add Attic Ventilation

Another way homeowners can keep their attic cool enough to prevent ice dams is with proper attic ventilation. Attic vents can be installed to ensure the attic is kept cool even while the home is being heated during winter. 

Intake vents can be installed along the underside of the roof eaves and in the soffit, while exhaust vents can be installed at the top of the roof. If you want a proper attic ventilation system, you should contact a professional roofing contractor as each system will vary depending on the roof’s size and configuration. 


  • Install De-Icing Cables on Top of the Roof

Another option is to install a de-icing cable, which can be bought at your nearest home improvement store. These cables can be installed directly on top of the shingles with clips or over the roof’s eaves. 

De-icing cables are very reliable when it comes to keeping ice dams from forming on the top of your roof. However, keep in mind that these cables are visible and they might dislodge when raking the roof. 


  • Install a Professional De-Icing System Under the Shingles

If you want a de-icing system that is not visible on your roof, then you can contact an expert to install a professional de-icing system that connects beneath the shingles. 

Such a system is best installed by a professional roofing contractor when installing new shingles on the roof. Therefore, if you are in the process of or thinking about a roof replacement, don’t forget to talk to your roofer about a system like this.


Final Thought

As you can see, there are many ways to prevent ice dams from forming on your roof. The method that is right for you will depend on your budget and certain factors inside your home. If you are not sure which option is best for you, then it is best to talk to a professional roofing contractor who can help you make an informed decision.