Category: Home Ownership infographic

Ice Dams: Causes and How to Prevent Them

Ice dams can be a real issue in the winter months. Learn what these potential roof hazards are and how you can prevent them from damaging your home.


ice dam causes and prevention infographic ice dam causes and prevention infographic ice dam causes and prevention infographic

Have you ever noticed a ridge of ice along the edge of your roof? These ridges are called ice dams and while they may look beautiful, they can cause a fair amount of damage to your home. Thankfully, ice dams are fairly preventable, particularly if you know what signs to look for. Learn what you can do to protect your home and prevent an ice dam from developing.

What Causes an Ice Dam?

Snowfall can cause a variety of roofing hazards that may be hard on your home. One of the more destructive winter hazards are ice dams. If left untreated, they can create a host of problems, damaging both the exterior and interior of your home, including your walls, floors and ceilings.

An ice dam will begin to form when heat escapes your home through the roof due to poor insulation or ventilation, causing the snow on your roof to melt. If your gutters and downspouts are clogged with debris, water will become trapped along the edge of your roof. Without anywhere to flow, this water will begin to pool, eventually refreezing and trapping additional water behind it. As the ice dam builds up, water will flow back behind the shingles on your roof, causing damage to the interior of your home.

Ice Dam Prevention

If you’re expecting heavy snowfall, there are few steps you may take to prevent ice dams from developing. First and foremost, it’s important to know how to properly clean your gutters, and to ensure that leaves or debris are cleared on a regular basis. Once you’ve experienced heavy snowfall, you should keep an eye on your roof to check for water buildup. If you’re able to do so safely, you may wish to use a snow rake to remove accumulated snow from your roof.

If you live in a region that experiences heavy snowfall on a regular basis, consider taking a few additional preventative measures like insulating your attic floors or having self-regulating heating cables professionally installed on your roof.

Because ice dam removal isn’t a simple process, ice dam prevention should be at the top of every homeowner’s winter weatherproofing checklist. If you can prevent ice dams from forming in the first place, you can save yourself the headache and expense of having to remove them later.


Find out which types of optional home insurance you should consider to protect your home from water damage. 

  • How to Get Rid of Ice Dams, This Old House, 2017.

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