How to Prevent Ice Dams on a Roof

An ice dam is a formation of ice that can appear at the eaves of your roof during extended periods of snow and cold weather. Ice dams form when ice builds up along the edge of your roof, creating a dam that traps water in a pool on your roof. If a large enough amount of water collects, it can force its way in underneath the roof shingles all the way into your house! 🙁

What Causes Ice Dams?

An ice dam can occur because hot air rises from your home up into the attic. The air collects in the attic, particularly at the highest points along the ridge of the roof. The heat then passes through the roofing material, melting the snow that has collected upon it. The melted snow trickles down the slope of the roof, becoming cooler as it reaches the eaves — the colder edges of the roof. As the melted water cools, it refreezes, thus forming the wall of ice. As the process continues, the ice can build up along the edge of the roof. It may also form long icicles hanging from the edge of the roof. As snow continues to melt and run down the roof, it meets the ice ridge and is unable to pass it. The water therefore collects behind a wall of ice or a dam.

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The Damage to your Home can be very Costly!

Preventing and removing ice dams is essential if you want to protect your roof and home from the harmful effects that these ice formations can produce. An ice dam can cause serious damage. It can force water in through the shingles of your roof, leaving behind a leaking roof that will need to be repaired if you want to prevent further water damage occurring every time that it rains. The water that enters your home through the damaged roof can also cause serious problems inside. It can damage the insulation in your attic and the wooden structure of your home. It can also damage anything that you keep in your attic. When it reaches the attic floor, the water can also soak through your ceiling and begin to cause damage within the rest of your home. The moisture in your attic and home can also result in problems with rot, damp and mildew. Repairing all of this damage and replacing any items that have been affected can be very expensive and time consuming.

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Prevention Methods

Various methods can be used to prevent ice dams from forming on your roof or to remove ice and snow as it begins to collect on top of the roof. You can take a long term approach by ensuring that your attic and roof are properly constructed, or you can buy a product that is designed to remove ice and snow from your roof.

Insulation and Ventilation

Ensuring that your attic is well insulated and that there is plenty of ventilation for the attic space is one of the best ways of preventing ice dams from forming on your roof in the long-term. The insulation can reduce the movement of heat into your attic from the house below. This can help to prevent the heating of the snow on your roof, so it is less likely to melt and cause problems with ice dams. The ventilation can help keep cold air from the outside circulating through your attic, which makes it impossible for heat to build up in the attic space. It can also help remove any moisture from the attic.

Ice Dam Prevention Products

If you do not have the time or resources to properly insulate and ventilate your attic space, consider investing in an ice melting system such as the one offered by hot edge.

Metal Roof as an Ice Dam Prevention Measure

Metal Roof for Ice Dam prevention

Installing a metal roof can also provide a long-term solution to preventing ice dams. Ice dams are much less likely to form on metal roofs because metal roofs are coated with a special type of coating that makes it difficult for the snow to accumulate. Instead, much of the snow will simply fall off a metal roof before it has a chance to melt and refreeze. Metal roofing can also help to make your home greener and more energy efficient. A combination of well insulated house protected with a metal roof can help reduce the heat loss from your home in the winter, while keeping your home cooler in the summer. However, if you do choose to install a metal roof, you will need to be very careful to prevent scratching your metal roof if you decide to remove the snow off your roof with a snow rake.

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