Ice Dams


What are ice dams? How are they formed?

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Ice dams are generally experienced in regions with more
snowfall. They
are solid blocks of ice that form along the eaves of your roof and prevents
drainage of melting snow off the roof. When the roof gets warm, it causes the
inner layer of snow on the roof to melt. This meltwater then trickles down
through the layer of snow and the shingles to reach the colder roof edge, where
it re-freezes again. It then acts like a reservoir trapping meltwater from the

Fig. Ice Dam


Why do you need to be concerned about ice dams?

Ice dams can cause several problems for homeowners as they
often lead to water leakage causing damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and
paint. When ice dams become big, the water level behind it also increases. This
water then seeps through underneath the shingles and drip through the roof,
making its way into your house. Also, when ice dams break free, it can loosen
shingles, tear off gutters and more seriously falling ice can be very


Some common approaches used to deal with existing ice dams

You can start breaking the ice dam into smaller
chunks. A blunt mallet is preferred over any sharp tools as you might damage
the shingles. This is a slow process and even if you do it safely some shingles
might come off.

You can apply Calcium Chloride Ice Melter to
melt through the ice dam. Using rock salt can cause extra damage.

You can also call professional ice dam removal
contractors who can remove your ice dam using special equipment.

Preventing ice dams

You can make sure that your gutters and
downspouts are clean and functioning well.

You can use heated cables along the edge of the
roof to leave gaps for drainage.

A long roof rake can be used to remove the snow
from the roof.


Long-term actions

All the above means and methods are only aimed at treating
the symptoms, but none of them are truly addressing the underlying problem,
which is the warm roof – which is causing the snow to melt. This warm roof is
generally because of insufficient insulation and ventilation of the space under
the roof; or due to the presence of air leaks.  Long-term solutions to get rid of ice dams are
based on the principle of keeping the entire roof at the same temperature. Some
of them are:

Making an airtight ceiling will prevent the flow
of warm air into the space below the roof sheathing. This process sounds
simple, but it requires a lot of care and sometimes difficult to achieve. If
done properly, you will save energy and costs.

After that consider increasing the insulation at
the ceiling to prevent heat loss by conduction.

You can ventilate the space between the roof and
the insulation. It will help remove some heat, but it alone cannot compensate
for the above-mentioned measures.

You can install a waterproof roof membrane.




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