426 Main Street Suite 2

Stoneham, MA 02180

Call: 781-438-1375

Fax: 781-438-6790

Mon - Fri: 8:30 - 5:00

Contact Us 24/7 Online

Understanding and Preventing Ice Dams

Ice dams and snow on roof and gutters of a residential property.
Table of Contents

Winter scenes with sparkling white snow and glistening icicles are beautiful to behold. However, the effects of winter weather can cause significant damage to your home. When melting snow and ice can’t drain properly from your roof, you can end up with ice dams that can cause damage to your gutters, ceiling, roof, and more.

By learning more about how ice dams form, you can take steps to immediately protect your home and prevent the formation of ice dams in the future.

What are Ice Dams?

Ice dams are thick ridges of ice that form along the edge of your roof. When you see icicles hanging from the eaves of your home, they’re likely attached to an ice dam that can damage your home.

In northern states like Massachusetts, it’s common for periods of heavy snow to be followed by milder sunny days. During the day, the snow on your roof will likely start melting. Ice dams form when heavy snow buildup melts during the day and then refreeze when temperatures drop overnight. Several days of melting and refreezing cycles result in thickening ice dams that can cause damage to your home.

Instant. Simple. Smart We Make Insurance Easy

Instant. Simple. Smart
We Make Insurance

Find Out How Much You Can Save Today

Take the first step towards peace of mind with LoPriore’s team. Experience tailored insurance solutions that fit your lifestyle and budget. Get your free, no-obligation quote today and see the difference expertise makes!

The Dangers of Ice Dams

Ice that melts on your home’s roof travels downward until it reaches the lower part of the roof that is below 32 degrees. There, it refreezes and swells to form an ice dam. During several days of melting and refreezing, ice dams grow, working under shingles and weighing down gutters.

Growing ice dams are fed by melting snow that continues to back up behind the dam. As the ice dam swells and damages your roof’s surface, water behind the dam works its way into roof cracks and openings to leak into your home. Leaky roofs can cause damage to insulation, ceilings, walls, and even floors. Meanwhile, on the outside of your home, ice dams can become so heavy they tear your gutters from your home.

How to Prevent Ice Dams

Uneven roof temperatures can cause ice dams. While the sun can contribute to melting snow on your roof, it’s usually not the leading cause. Ice dams begin to form when higher portions of your home’s roof get above 32 degrees, melting snow. This is usually caused by some form of heat loss in the house.

It is difficult or impossible to stop the damage from occurring once large ice dams form. However, there are immediate and long-term solutions you can use to prevent ice dams from occurring.

Keep Your Gutters Clean

Before winter weather hits, make sure to clear your gutter of fall leaves, twigs, and other debris that can inhibit water flow. After clearing the gutters, check your downspouts to make sure water flows freely through them. Debris in your gutters or downspout can slow the flow of water and make freezing more likely.

Remove Snow with a Roof Rake

Ice dams form quickly after a snowfall because of snow’s insulating properties. A roof rake is a long-handled device that allows you to safely remove large amounts of snow from your roof while standing safely on the ground. Use the rake to remove snow from at least the lower 4 feet of your roof to prevent ice dams from forming right after a snow.

Warm Your Roof’s Edge with Heated Cables

Heated cables can be attached with clips along the roof’s edge in a zigzag pattern. These cables allow you to equalize your roof’s temperature by heating the part of the roof that is typically below freezing from the outside. By preventing uneven roof temperatures, you can avoid the formation of ice dams.

Man shoveling snow from his home's roof - preventing the formation of ice dams.

Cool the Air on the Warmest Part of Your Roof

If water is actively leaking into your home, stopping the leak fast is essential. Take a box fan into the attic and aim it at the underside of the roof where water is actively leaking in. By targeting a stream of cold air to a specific destination, you can freeze leaking water until you can find a more permanent solution.

Add Insulation

Older homes may not have sufficient insulation to keep heat from escaping. Insulation on the attic floor keeps heat in the house where it belongs and helps you avoid uneven roof heat. Consider adding insulation above the ceilings of living spaces or against the inside surface of the roof. Extra insulation can also help you reduce heating costs.

Check your Chimney or Ductwork

Frequent use of wood stoves and fireplaces allows the transfer of heat from the chimney to the attic space. To eliminate heat transfer from the chimney, seal the space between your chimney and house frame with steel flashing and unbroken beads of a fire-stop sealant. Leaky or poorly insulated ductwork in the attic space can cause additional heat in the attic space. Before winter begins, inspecting and sealing all ductwork joints is important. After sealing is complete, cover the HVAC and exhaust ducts with proper insulation.

Invest in Attic Ventilation

Circulating cooler air under your entire roof’s surface can prevent uneven snow melt on your roof’s surface. Since ice dams are usually formed by escaping the heat, keeping your attic cool will promote even the melting of snow without ice dams. Roof ventilation can be achieved with a ridge vent paired with continuous soffit vents to circulate cold air under the entire roof.

Protect Your Home from Ice Dam Damage

Snow and ice are common during Massachusetts winters. When damage to your home occurs, it can be costly and difficult to repair. As a homeowner, taking certain steps to protect your home from damage is important. Yet, some dangers to your home can be hard to predict and detect.

Homeowner’s insurance can help you avoid financial distress in the event your home becomes damaged. Before winter weather causes damage to your home, it’s important to make sure your insurance coverage adequately protects your home and its contents.

Unsure whether you have adequate homeowner’s insurance for your Massachusetts home? Contact the independent agents at LoPriore Insurance to learn more about evaluating your coverage.

Protect Your Property
Get Tailored Insurance Coverage Today!

Secure your peace of mind! Contact us now for personalized property insurance. “Safeguard your property with comprehensive insurance coverage. From homes to commercial spaces, ensure protection against unforeseen events. Get the coverage your property deserves, tailored to your specific requirements and risks.

Need Home Insurance?
Contact Us Today for The Right Coverage!

Discover the right protection for your home sweet home. Our dedicated team is here to provide you with personalized home insurance solutions tailored to your needs. From safeguarding your belongings to protecting your property against unforeseen events, we’re committed to securing what matters most to you. Contact us today to explore comprehensive coverage options that fit your lifestyle and ensure peace of mind for you and your family.

Related Posts

Are You Paying To Much For Insurance?

Talk with an Agent and see how we can help you save!