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Preventing & Repairing Ice Dams

What Exactly Is An Ice Dam?

roof ice dam1

In the winter months you will find snow and ice on your roof. A freeze and thaw cycle causes ice build up to form at the edge of your roof which is where you will find an ice dam. This is a big problem because it prevents melting snow, or water, from being able to drain. The water then backs up under the snow and behind the ice causing pools of water just sitting on your roof. This causes leaks in the home, attic, down the walls, in the insulation, and other areas. 


Effects Of Ice Dams

It is inevitable that moisture will enter the home with any ice dam. When water enters the home, it can cause mold, mildew, and other bacteria. The short and long term effect of these can cause respiratory issues. Here are a few things to do if you find yourself in this situation.

Ice Dam

  1. If you spot a leak or have moisture anywhere from a roof leak, please contact your local contractor to find that immediately. 
  2. Take action to get rid of the water source, then clean and dry the area affected.
  3. In order to prevent mold and mildew, dry the area and clean with an antibacterial soap or spray. This will kill any mold spores already created and prevent new ones from forming. 
  4. Replace any damaged wood, drywall, insulation if needed.  

Causes Of Ice Dams

Ice dams are a product of uneven temperatures on a roof. There are many causes for the uneven temperatures in a roof, take the proactive approach by making your home or business as heat efficient as possible. This will help prevent ice dams and can reduce your energy costs. 


Heat loss from the home or business, levels of snow cover, and changing temperatures are the leading causes for ice dams. Snow on a roof is inevitable to melt at higher temperatures and cause water to roll off the roof, hopefully to the ground.  If the water reaches a portion of the roof below freezing temperatures, it will possibly freeze and build up. This causes ice dams. When the ice dam grows, water builds up behind it and ends up finding cracks and can even damage the surface to create a hole to flow. 

Loss of heat generally comes from in the house. Poor insulation and poor attic ventilation are the leading causes for heat to escape. There are several ways to go about fixing these issues. 

How To Control An Ice Dam

It is important to know exactly where the heat loss is and how to fix it in order to have long-term effects. Roofing contractors are experienced in ice dams and ice dam control. This professional should be able to give your roof an inspection through the attic and visually on the outside. Many professionals use Infrared Imaging in order to pinpoint where the roof is losing heat in the cold and losing cold in the heat of the summer. There are a few good questions to get answered by a professional.

  1. What is the best method of preventing ice dams on my roof?
  2. Can my roof carry any additional snow or weight?
  3. What are my short-term or long-term options to prevent ice dams?
  4. Is my roof and attic ventilated well enough?
  5. How is my insulation?


Depending on the contractor, they should be able to write up a full report on your roof. Give estimates and condition reports on your roof. They should also be able to repair and replace as needed. It all depends on the roof, the condition, and the climate. Ask questions, you won’t regret it. 

Final Thoughts

Ice dams are a result of heat loss from your home which creates a block of ice on the edge of your roof. Water gathers behind the ice dam and damages the roof enough for water to enter the home. This causes damage to wood, plaster, sheet rock, insulation, and more. Be safe and have the area dried and cleaned to prevent mold and mildew. Finally, consult with a professional to get the best and most accurate reading of your home or business. Repair, replace, and be proactive. It will save a headache later.

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