Ice dams can cause big problems for homeowners in the winter. So, what are they, how do they form, and how can you prevent them from happening? Ice dams are basically a buildup of ice along the edge of your roof line, which can clog your gutters. They form because warm air from the attic melts the snow on your rooftop. The melted water begins to run down to the edge of your roof, where it meets cold air once it leaves the warmth of the area above the attic space. It then freezes, creating a blockade of ice that just continues to get bigger as the process repeats. This then creates a backflow of water, moving up your roof and causing leaks by entering underneath shingles (shingles were meant to shed downward-moving water and do nothing to block water moving the other way).
In our opinion, there are four great ways to prevent ice dams from forming on your roofline and in your gutters:
- The best prevention tips we can offer are these first two. First, improve your attic insulation. Making sure you have proper insulation will decrease the amount of warm air that escapes to your roof, preventing the melting process we mentioned earlier.
- Second, make sure you have proper venting from your attic. Adding roof or soffit vents will help to allow warm attic air to escape, keeping your roof cold.
- If you are not able to fix those first two items right away, consider installing a heat cable on the edge of your roofline, just above your gutters. This is usually installed in a zig zag pattern and will heat that area of the roof, causing snow to melt and preventing an ice dam from forming.
- A more labour-intensive solution, but an immediate fix would be to remove snow from the roof. If you have a single-story house, you can invest in a snow rake that is made especially for this. You need to be careful to not break your shingles in the process and protect your back as well.