During the coldest months of the year, many homeowners deal with ice dams building up on their roofs. Ice dams form when the temperature at the peak of your roof is above freezing, but the temperature near the bottom is below freezing. This causes snow near the top to melt into water runoff but re-freeze as it nears the bottom before it can safely drain off the roof. As a result, the re-frozen water creates a barrier, preventing any additional water from draining correctly.ac-2-2-23-P.jpgIce dams cause multiple problems. Not only can they form heavy icicles that can be a hazard as you enter and exit your home, they can also tear off your gutters and loosen shingles. In addition, by blocking water from draining off of your roof, ice dams make it more likely that you will experience roof leaks, which can cause various issues like mold growth, soggy insulation, warped floors, peeling paint, and more. 

So what can you do to prevent these harmful ice dams from building up and damaging your property? Here are a few things that you can do to prevent ice dams from forming on your roof. 


1. Proper Insulation

Warm air rises, and heat travels from warmer areas to areas with lower temperatures over time. Because a surprising number of homes lack adequate attic insulation, the snow on your roof and ice on your home’s exterior walls will encounter heat from the inside of your home, causing it to melt into water runoff. 

Many people agree that roof sheathing and properly insulating your attic is one of the most effective methods of ice dam prevention. It prevents heat loss, which can also help lower your heating bill and save you money in the long run. If you prevent the warm attic air from leaking out and melting the snow outside, there will be no water runoff to re-freeze at the bottom of the roof and form an ice dam. 

2. Ventilation

Another extremely effective method for preventing ice dams from forming is making sure that your home has proper ventilation. Proper attic insulation is key to stopping snow from melting and turning into an ice dam. 

Even when you insulate your attic properly, there’s still a chance that the heat inside your home will affect the roof and cause melting snow to form an ice dam. Implementing suitable ventilation may be the right solution for you. Appropriate ventilation allows excess hot air to escape your attic before it diffuses into the roof and leads to ice dams. Ideally, your ventilation system should include soffit vents to draw cool air into the eaves and ridge vents for hot air exhaust at the top. 

3. Snow Removal

Since the main cause of ice dams is snow melting and re-freezing on your roof before it can drain off, removing the snow before it gets to the melting point can be an extremely effective method. The best part is you don’t need to get on a ladder to clean it off or hire someone to do it for you. 

You can safely remove snow from your roof while you remain on the ground, safe and sound, by using a roof rake. Roof rakes have two basic components: a long, extendable handle and a blade for scraping off the snow. 


Even if you take all the necessary precautions, there’s still a chance that ice dams may form. If you find yourself in this situation, they need to be removed as soon and as safely as possible. 

Chemical ice melters, like calcium chloride, provide an easy and quick way to melt ice. Some experts recommend filling socks or the legs of pantyhose with the calcium chloride, then laying it on the bottom of the roof so that it sits crosswise on top of the ice dam, melting through the ice and creating a channel for water to flow off the roof.ac-2-2-23-.jpgOther options for removing ice dams include breaking the ice away or steaming it away, but both of these solutions are best left to a roofing professional for the safety of you and your house.

Dealing with Damage

If you are dealing with water damage caused by ice dams, winter storms, or any other cause, AdvantaClean is standing by to help. We are experts in water damage remediation and mold removal. You can contact us 24/7 for assistance.

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