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Dealing with and preventing ice dams

By January 26, 2022No Comments

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and other areas.

Long- and short-term ice dam control

Ice dams can be prevented by controlling the heat loss from the home.

Short-term action

Remove snow from the roof. This eliminates one of the ingredients necessary for the formation of an ice dam.

  • A “roof rake” and push broom can be used to remove snow, but may damage the roofing materials.
  • In an emergency situation where water is flowing into the house structure, making channels through the ice dam allows the water behind the dam to drain off the roof.
    • Hosing with tap water on a warm day will do this job.
    • Work upward from the lower edge of the dam.
    • The channel will become ineffective within days and is only a temporary solution to ice dam damage.

Long-term action

  • First, make the ceiling air tight so no warm, moist air can flow from the house into the attic space.
  • After sealing air leakage paths between the house and attic space, consider increasing the ceiling or roof insulation to cut down on heat loss by conduction.


  • Anyone on the roof during the winter or performing work on the roof from below risks injury and may cause damage to the roof and house.
  • It is important to contact professionals to carry out this job.
  • Whenever a house is tightened up, ventilation systems, exhausting devices and combustion devices must have enough air to operate safely and effectively.