Ice Damming Definition & Prevention

Ice Damming Highlight Reel

As we head into the colder months and towards what is predicted to be a brutal winter (according to the Farmer’s Almanac), we thought it would be helpful to compile a sort of “highlight reel” of the most important points from our past most popular ice damming blogs.

December 12, 2014 – “Ice Damming: Are You at Risk?

Before we talk about anything else let’s talk about what some of you are thinking, what’s ice damming? Basically ice damming is when the heat in your home escapes through your attic and makes your roof warm. After it snows the warm part of your roof melts the snow and that water flows down to the bottom of your roof, which is still cold. Once the melted snow and water reach the cold roof, some of it freezes into ice and traps the remainder against your home. This water can be forced back under your shingles and finds its way into your attic, ceilings, and the interior walls of your home. This can cost you big bucks to fix whatever damage it has caused.

The reactive approach to prevent ice damming would be to remove at least the first 3-5 feet of snow when it falls. Snow is a great insulator, which is why leaving that snow there will only worsen the problem. Removing that snow will allow the trapped water to flow somewhere besides into your home. In the same vein, if you apply some ice-melting agent, like an approved gutter-melt for example, that will cause the ice to melt more quickly than the trapped water will have an even easier time escaping and flowing away from your house.

As for proactive approaches, there are a few options. One of which is heating cables. Now this isn’t something you can just throw up on your roof and just leave there; there are many variables to consider when installing heat cables. They must be professionally installed.

January 24, 2013 – “The Truth About Ice Dams, Icicles, and Gutter Guards!

Heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures are never a good mix when it comes to the home. The warm temperatures from your attic will cause the snow and ice to melt on your roof. However, as the temperatures drop, the melted snow and ice will begin to freeze again. This constant refreezing can cause ice dams and icicles to form along the gutters. If not properly taken care of, the ice will begin to build up under the shingles, which may lead to water damage in the home. Watch out, a common sign of water damage caused from ice damming are water spots on the ceiling.

In the video below, owner Ken Parsons from The Brothers that just do Gutters suggests making two investments to prevent ice damming in your home. A roof rake, even though it requires more maintenance, can be used to take the excess snow off your roof. For a more maintenance free option, you may want to consider investing in a quality heating cable.

February 15, 2014 – “Ice Damming

Ice dams are a danger to the home and people below. The icicles formed from the melting snow and ice can fall at any time and injure a person or child below. The dripping ice can cause a puddle on a walkway which freezes overnight and creates a fall hazard. The snow can avalanche off the roof causing damage to cars or property. As the ice expands in the gutters of the home, they start to pry the gutters away from the roof. The ice also starts to pry up the roof where the dam has now prevented water from shedding off the roof. As the ice works its way into the roof, the water will begin to drip into the walls of the home. The list of damages to the home from ice dams is costly.

  • Electrical wiring in the walls
  • Gutter and downspout damage
  • Roof shingle damage
  • Fascia rot
  • Sheetrock water stains
  • Insulation damage

July 26, 2014 – “What to Expect from a Gutter Guard in Winter

How can a Gutter Guard protect your home from winter damage?

Ice dams occur for many various reasons. They form when the ice buildup at the edge of the roof eventually finds its way into your house. Although much blame for ice dams is given to gutters, the real cause is due to uneven temperatures, gravity and friction. (see our blog all about ice damming) Gutter guards provide three aspects of ice dam protection that would otherwise not exist.

  • They help gutters to remain clog-free allowing the melting ice and snow to escape
  • They strengthen and protect the gutter system and downspouts from breaking or falling off the fascia from too much weight or frozen clogs.
  • They provide the optimal situation for installation of heat cables

If you have had serious issues with ice dams in the past, the best recommendation is to install a heat cable in your gutter and cover the gutter with a guard.

The most important thing to do first, is to have a heat loss evaluation done on your home to see if your home is properly insulated. If your home needs a heat evaluation give us a call and we’ll connect you with one of our referrals! If your home has been insulted already, and you’re still experiencing icicles or ice damming, we can install a heated gutter system using a self regulating heated cable to help prevent and solve your ice damming problem.