Commercial, Mixed-Use and Strata Roof Maintenance in Vancouver, B.C.

Ice Damming On Roof? (Causes & Prevention) | leak-stop

Ice Damming On Roof? (Causes & Prevention)

As kids, we all were fascinated by the Icicles hanging off our roofs during winter. Little did we know that those fascinating objects could damage our roofs. Ice damming on roof is a common problem faced by property owners in cold regions. If you are one of them you have come to the right place.

Ice damming On Roof  is caused by several reasons some of them are snow, air leaks, undermaintained roofs, pot lights etc. Likewise, there are multiple methods of preventing this issue as well.

In this article we will learn what is an ice dam, how is it caused, how we fix it, what are its effects on the roof, and how to prevent ice damming on roof temporarily and permanently.

What Is Ice Damming On Roof?

Ice damming occurs when snow accumulated over the roof melts due to the rise in daytime temperature. This melted snow instead of draining off the roof refreeze into ice overnight due to the temperature drop. Creating an ice dam at the edge of the roof.

How Does Ice Damming Affect Your Roofing System?

Ice damming can be a major problem for any roofing system. This can cause extensive damage to your roof leading to expensive repairs.

Here’s what you need to know about ice damming and how it can affect your roofing system.

  • Ice dam leads to water pooling over the roof, which causes leaks.
  • Accumulated water or snow aids in the faster decomposition of roofing materials.
  • It may give rise to a wavy roof and can dampen your roofing insulation.
  • Moisture from ice dams can give rise to mold growth in the attic or in other places such as the ceiling which may cause respiratory problems.

How To Identify Ice Damming On Roof Problem?

If you live in a region where it’s mostly cold, then you need to look out for ice dams. Ice damming on roof  cause serious damage to your home.

Here are some steps to identify ice damming on roof problem:

1. Check for icicles: If you see icicles forming on your roof, then this is a sign that an ice dam may be forming.

2. Check for snow: Another sign of an ice dam is if there is snow buildup on your roof.

3. Check for leaks: If you start to see leaks in your ceiling, then this could be a sign of an ice dam over your roof.

What Are The Causes Of  Ice Damming On Roof?

Several factors contribute to ice damming on roof.

  1. Air Leakage Through Walls

When cold air comes in contact with the heat inside your home, it causes snow to melt. So, even if the outside temperature is below freezing. The snow on your roof melts due to the heat penetrating through the roof. But does not slip off the roof, instead freezes as soon as it comes in contact with the chilled air outside.

  1. Snow

When water freezes, it expands. This can cause problems for property owners when the freezing happens on their roofs creating Ice dams. That adds weight which causes damage to not only the gutters and shingles but to the whole roofing system itself.

Snow is one of the main culprits when it comes to ice dam formation, which is why it’s important to be aware of the dangers that come with heavy snowfall.

  1. Thermal Bridging Through Walls

Thermal bridging is a process wherein heat is conducted through walls, ceilings, or other building envelope assemblies, but it has a major impact on snow and ice damming which is often overlooked.

  1. Pot Lights

Pot lights look elegant but may aid in ice damming. As they emit a lot of heat, warming the air around them. Plus, it’s tough to seal these lights leading to air leaks and increased possibility of ice damming.

  1. Sun And Wind

Ice damming occurs when the heat from the sun or wind melts the snow on the roof of a building. The melted snow then refreezes, creating an ice dam.

How To Protect Your Roof From Ice Dams?

Heating Cables:

One of the best preventive measures against ice damming is installing heating cables. These cables are installed in a zig-zag pattern on your roof. This will keep the area on top of your roof warm and prevent ice dams.

Installing An Underlayment:

Underlayment may not directly prevent ice damming. However, it effectively prevents the after-effects of the issue. As it makes your roof totally waterproof.

Read more about underlayment HERE!

How To Get Rid Of Ice Damming On Roof? (Temporary Solutions)

  1. Shovel

One way to prevent ice dams is to remove snow from your roof regularly. A roof shovel or push broom with stiff bristles can be used to remove snow from the roof. It’s important to do this regularly, especially after a heavy snowfall. However, make sure you do not damage the roofing system in the process

  1. De-icing Methods

The use of ice shields along roof edges can help prevent ice dams. Another option is to install a roof de-icing system. These systems work by circulating warm air under the roof surface, which melts the snow and prevents it from refreezing.

  1. Blow in Cold Air

The best way to get rid of ice damming is to blow in cold air. This will lower the temperature of the roof and prevent the snow from melting and refreezing.

Avoid Ice Damming On Roof Forever. (Permanent Solutions)

  1. Seal Your Hatch

If you have an unsealed attic hatch or whole-house fan, you are losing a lot of heat. To keep the heat in, wrap it with foil-faced foam board caps sealed with aluminium tape. It’s an easy and inexpensive fix that will make your home more comfortable and energy efficient.

  1. Proper Insulation

Another common cause of ice dams is a lack of insulation in your attic. This can cause the same issue as poor ventilation, with the heat from your home causing the snow on your roof to melt. The difference is, without insulation, this heat will escape even faster.

  1. Ventilate Eaves And Ridge

A well-ventilated attic is key to maintaining uniform roof temperatures. A warm attic in the winter will melt snow on the roof because heat will be lost through the sheathing. To prevent this, it is important to keep eaves and ridges well-ventilated. Natural roof ventilation can help with this by ensuring that the air in your attic is circulated.

  1. Exhaust To The Outside

Most houses have an outlet for the exhaust outside. This is done to avoid poisoning the air inside the house. However, another reason for placing the exit vent outside is that it prevents ice damming.

  1. Seal And Insulate Ducts

You can prevent ice damming by sealing and insulating your ducts. By taking this preventative measure, you will be saving yourself time, money, and hassle in the future.

  1. Flash Around Chimneys

Chimneys are one of the most vulnerable spots on a roof when it comes to snow. One way to protect your chimney and roof from ice dams is to correctly install flashing around the base of the chimney. This will help to deflect the accumulation of snow or water near its base and prevent ice damming.

  1. Caulk

Caulking is the best way to fix the issue of roof penetrations. It will stop moisture from seeping in. And preventing ice dams, also helps to prevent any future damage that could be caused by water.

  1. Install Sealed Pot Lights

By replacing recessed lighting with sealed pot lights, you can prevent ice damming on roof. Sealed pot lights are less likely to allow moisture to enter the attic, and they also provide better insulation against the cold.


We hope this article “Ice Damming On Roof” offered you enough knowledge about ice dams. However, if you wish to talk to professional roofers or wish to hire a team of qualified and experienced roofers feel free to connect with us any day!

LeakStop is a one-stop destination to meet your roofing-related requirements. We offer roof repair, replacement, maintenance, and inspection services all over GVRD (Greater Vancouver Regional District).

We offer a free inspection to first-time clients. Connect with us TODAY at 1 866 777 0084 for immediate assistance!

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