Ice Dams - How To Eliminate And Prevent Roof Damage  

by Pool Builders on 12-21-2011 in Articles

Do you live in a climate where heaps of snow or layers of ice are common on rooftops? If so, then you must know all about roof ice dams so you can protect your home from expensive damage. Skating rinks and swimming pools are fun on the ground, but they are not nearly as fun on the roof of your home!


An ice dam is a pool of water created when melted snow and ice is prevented from running off the roof. The water is typically blocked by ice along the lower edges of the roof. This can happen when the heat of the home's interior melts the snow or ice packed on the roof above. This runs off to the edges of the roof, where it can refreeze into ice. As more snow or ice melts from the roof over the interior, it runs down to the edge but is prevented by the ice from rolling off the roof. It collects into a pool, which is called an ice dam.

Roof ice dams can cause significant damage to the roof, as the water gets underneath the roof shingles and makes its way into the attic below. This damage can be costly to repair, which is why homeowners must be on the lookout for signs of ice collecting along the edges of their roof.


If you notice roof ice dams already forming, you can use electrical cable or calcium chloride to melt some of the ice. This should be enough to create a melted path where the water melting from above can freely run off the roof. This is only a short term solution, but it should be good enough to prevent water from settling in underneath the ice and damaging your roof.


The long term, permanent solution for preventing future ice dams is to correct the insulation in your attic. If the attic is properly insulated so that the underside of the roof does not get overly heated to melt ice and snow above, then you prevent the run-off that typically freezes along the edges of your roof. Fix the insulation, and you correct the underlying cause of roof ice dams.

There are a couple insulation strategies that can be used:

1. Vents and baffles are used to create a cold pocket of air between the underside of the roof and the attic insulation. This is often referred to as a "cold roof" because it stops the heat from the home interior from reaching the roof, keeping it cold so ice and snow do not melt as easily.

2. Rafter bays underneath an unvented roof are packed with closed-cell polyurethane foam insulation. The idea is that a lot of insulation will prevent the heat from getting to the underside of the roof. This is often referred to as a "hot roof." This must be done properly, or it can cause problems with water being trapped if it does get underneath the shingles and into the insulation.

If you think roof ice dams are a problem for your home, it is important to call in professional contractors who know the best insulation methods for your home. They must be experienced with the elimination and prevention of dams so they can properly correct the problem without creating future problems.

Ice dams can also be formed by a freak snow storm in climates where snow is not commonly a problem, but they are even more of a problem in climates where snow and ice fall regularly. Roofs in these areas will collect more snow and ice each year, allowing the damage from ice dams to collect and worsen from one year to the next. If you live in a colder climate, it is essential that your roof be checked for ice along the edges regularly during the colder months.

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