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Winter Warning: Ice Dams On The Roof And How To Prevent Them

Posted on November 28, 2023

Winter Warning: Ice Dams On The Roof And How To Prevent Them

With the shivering winters in Buffalo and Western New York comes the ice damming on the roof. Since Buffalo and the surrounding areas experience severe storms that come with hefty amounts of snowfall, the formation of ice dams is fairly common. To protect your home, it’s important to remove snow and take preventive measures to stop ice damming. So, if you aren’t prepared before problems arise, you may have to pay a significant amount to resolve issues later on. 

This blog post explains why ice dams form on the roof and guides you through solutions to prevent them in the first place. 

The Formation of Ice Dams On The Roof

Ice damming occurs mainly because of the temperature difference among the various parts of the roof or between the roof ridge and eave. When the heat from the attic escapes through the roof ridge, it melts the surrounding snow and causes it to flow down towards the roof eaves. And since the temperature at the roof eave is relatively lower than that at the ridge, it refreezes and forms the thick layer of ice and snow, known as an ice dam. 

This adds significant weight to the eaves and stops the flow of water, which may lead to weakened roofing materials and leaks. Roof leaks are a major problem caused by ice dams. 

Is Insufficient Insulation The Real Culprit?

The real culprit behind the ice dam formation on the roof is the insufficient insulation and roof ventilation, as heat may escape through the roof ridge. If you want to stop the ice dam formation on your roof permanently, you need to improve your roof’s insulation. Make your roof air tight to stop the passage of air between the attic and outside. 

Problems That Ice Dams Cause On A Roof

Snow buildup on the roof eaves gives rise to a range of problems, including water leaks, roof collapse, and damaged and wet insulation. 

As water finds its way into your home, it can damage insulation, reducing its effectiveness and creating a damp environment perfect for mold and mildew growth. Gutter damage is another issue homeowners face with the formation of ice dams. The extra weight of the ice can cause the gutters to bend or pull away from the eaves. Plus, if the ice dams are not addressed, they can cause water and snow to build up on the roof’s surface, leading to added pressure on the roofing system that may lead to a collapse. 

It is crucial to take preventative measures against ice dams to ensure the safety and security of your property. 

Quick Fix To Prevent Ice Dams On The Roof

Install Heated Cables

Laying heated cables is one of the most common ice dam prevention measures taken by homeowners. They are installed before the event of ice dam formation so that your roof stays protected against anything Mother Nature throws its way. Heated cables are laid or attached with clips along your roof eave, where ice dams most often form. 

Though not an effective way to prevent ice damming, heated cables melt the built up ice and keep the eaves at a higher temperature, allowing melted snow to flow into the gutters. 

Ice Dams

Temporary Solutions To Remove Ice Dams

Homeowners often incorporate many tactics to prevent ice dams and to solve the issues caused by them, but it’s crucial to note that many of these DIY solutions don’t work and can damage your roof. Some such tactics include pouring hot water on the roof, blowing hot air using a hair dryer, and beating ice with a hammer. Instead, follow these tips: 

1. Use Ice Dam Prevention Products 

We suggest you use expert recommended ice dam prevention products. Some of these include: 

a) Roof Rakes

Roof rakes do excellent work when it comes to preventing ice dams on roofs. Roof rakes are long handled snow scrapers used to pull down the snow from the roof. Often made of aluminum, roof rakes are lightweight so that you can handle it with ease without damaging your roof. Many types also come with an extendable handle, so you can reach even the highest point on your roof. 

b) Ice Dam Steamers

Ice dam steamers are also a better approach to remove the built up ice on your roof eaves. Moreover, if you have a large roof on which raking snow can be time consuming, ice dam steamers are worth investing in. However, they are generally not recommended for DIY ice dam removal since they require homeowners to climb the roof, which can be especially risky in the winter. 

2. Blow Air Inside The Attic 

Another temporary solution to prevent ice dam formation is blowing air inside your attic with fans. This is considered one of the most effective ways to prevent the snow from melting and building up on the roof eave. 

But, you may be wondering what blowing air inside the attic has to do with ice dam prevention. Blowing air inside the attic keeps it cold and prevents snow from melting and refreezing back on your roof eave. This method ultimately reduces the temperature difference between the attic and outside. 

Permanent Solutions To Stop Ice Dam Formation On The Roof

1. Install Sufficient Roof Insulation 

Installing roof insulation inside the attic is one of the most effective ways to stop ice damming on the roof permanently. Sufficient insulation traps the heat beneath the roof, stopping it from escaping the attic. Additionally, it minimizes the temperature difference and keeps the temperature constant throughout the roof, which stops ice damming. 

2. Ventilate Your Ridge And Roof Eave

A ridge vent and soffit vents are a type of exhaust and intake vents that work together to maintain the airflow and reduce the temperature difference within the building. A ridge vent, as the name suggests, is installed along the roof ridge, while a soffit vent, being a type of intake vent, is installed on the soffit, the underside of the roof eave. By improving the working of ridge vents and the soffit vents, the risk of ice dams decreases. 

3.  Install Ice And Water Shields

Ice and water shields are the first layers of defense against the problems caused by ice formation on the roof. Moreover, ice and water shields are among the roofing materials homeowners forget during a roof installation or replacement. Ice and water shields are installed on the roof before the underlayment and the roofing materials are installed. They stick directly to the roof deck, protecting it from the infiltrating water and problems caused by ice dams. 

Hire The Best Professionals In Buffalo And Say Goodbye To Ice Dams on the Roof

If you are looking to remove the ice dam and install permanent solutions, consult the skilled and experienced roofers at Buffalo’s Best Roofing Company. The roofing company specializes in ice dam removal in Buffalo and Western New York. Just give us a call today at (716) 276-3673 to schedule a professional estimate for your roofing project.