How To Prevent Ice Dams on Your Roof

Suburban single family home in Bucks PA experience damaged roof deck caused by ice dam formation.

Ice dams are a common occurrence when it snows in the winter, but they can be one of the most dangerous things to deal with on your roof. They can cause significant damage to your home and result in thousands of dollars’ worth of repairs. Thankfully, there are several steps you can take before and during the winter season that will help keep them at bay. So, how do you prevent ice dams on your roof? Here are some tips that will save you money and avoid those long repair bills.

What Damages are Caused by Ice Dams?

Ice dams are the result of water freezing on a roof. The ice dam forms on the edge of a gutter or other part of your home’s structure, preventing water from flowing properly off of the roof. The trapped water can cause damage in several ways.

One obvious issue caused by ice dams is damage to your roof. When ice dams prevent water from falling off your roof, that water seeps under the shingles instead. This can cause your shingles to curl, buck, or even crack. When this much damage occurs, you need to repair your roof shingles quickly.

Ice dams can also damage your roof deck. While your roof deck is designed to withstand some additional weight when it snows, it may bow and crack under an ice dam. Overtime, you’ll notice that your roof is starting to sag. This is a sign of the kind of structural damage that most homeowners consider a nightmare.

Finally, ice dams can cause leaking in your home. When an ice dam forms, the water that is trapped behind it can leak into your walls, ceilings, and insulation. This trapped water is also the ideal environment for mold and mildew growth. Mold and mildew caused by ice dams can lead to further damage to your roof and potential health problems for you and your family.

What are the Best Ice Damn Prevention Methods

To avoid unnecessary and costly repairs to your home’s roof, walls, and structural support, you need to be proactive. Thankfully, there are several things that you can do to prevent ice dams. These include closing your attic bypass, installing baffles, sealing your vents, and simply cleaning your gutters and roof.

Close up Attic Bypasses

An attic bypass is a hole in your roof that allows warm air to escape into the attic and causes ice dams. By identifying these bypasses, you can repair them and prevent unexpected home maintenance needs.

To find out if you have an attic bypass, look for areas on your roof where there’s no snow in winter and for signs that water is running down the side of your home. If you see that is happening on more than one side of your house, then it could be an attic bypass issue. These signs should be easy to spot without professional intervention.

If you do find evidence of an attic bypass, seal off all access points to your attic (including chimneys). You can use foam insulation and sealant tape to do this. But a word to the wise: make sure there are no animals living in your attic first! A trapped animal is the last thing you want in your home this winter.

Seal the attic vents.

Even when you don’t see signs of attic bypasses, you still need to consider ways that hot air escapes through your roof.  The best way to keep heat from escaping through your roof is by air-sealing all the vents in your attic. This can be done with caulk or foam, depending on what kind of material your roof is made from.

Make sure that all skylights are closed during cold months as well. If there’s no snow on top of them yet but there might be soon (and if there isn’t already), cover those up with plastic sheeting so they don’t get damaged by hail or frostbite damage later on down the road when winter really hits hard!

Install baffles in the attic.

If you have an attic, installing baffles is a good way to prevent ice dams. Baffles are thin sheets of metal or plastic that are installed across the top of your roof, between rafters and overhangs. They limit airflow by blocking wind from moving through your attic, while allowing rainwater to pass through freely.

Baffles must be installed across the top of your home where water tends to collect. In most cases, this occurs near chimneys and over roof valleys. Baffles are cut into pieces and installed with a slight overlap and secured to the rafters. This installation method helps the baffles withstand heavy loads of snow accumulation.


Gutter downspout clogged by leaves and frozen water leading to ice dam formation on the roof.
Clearing your gutters and downspouts is an easy and effective method to prevent ice dams in the winter.


Keep your gutters clean.

To prevent ice dams, you should be sure that your gutters are clean and free of debris. If leaves and other materials collect in your gutter, they can block water from flowing out of the downspout. This will cause water to build up on top of them, which freezes when temperatures drop.

To keep this from happening, simply remove any debris from your gutters once or twice a year. This is especially important during the fall and early months of winter. If your gutters are in high-heard-to-reach places, consider hiring a contractor. Locally owned and operated roofing and siding contractors offer gutter cleaning and maintenance that takes the stress and danger out of the process.

Use a roof rake to pull snow off your roof.

Our final ice damn prevention tip is simple: rake your roof! Roof rakes are designed to help you remove snow from your roof, and they’re available at most hardware stores. When you remove snow with one of these rakes, you make it harder for water to get trapped in an ice dam.

Using a roof rake is easy. Just attach it to the end of an extension pole, push down on one side of the tool with both hands, then pull up on the handle.

If you’re uncomfortable removing snow from your roof top, contact your local roofing contractors. Local, insured roofing contractors can remove snow quickly and safely while you stay warm and dry inside.

What if my Roof Already has an Ice Dam?

If you have an ice dam, it’s important to remove it. The most common way to do this is by calling a roofing contractor who can clear off the snow and ice from your roof. Professionals, insured like the ones at Summit Roofing & Siding Contractors, can remove ice dams from your roof quickly. It’s also safer to leave this type of work to the professionals, as you may not have the proper equipment to stay safe on an icy roof.

Preventing Ice Dams on Your Roof in Southeastern, PA

We hope this article has helped you understand how do you prevent ice dams on your roof. Ice dams cause expensive problems, but they’re east to prevented with proper maintenance. By taking care of your gutters and cleaning out snow from your roof, you can keep ice dams from forming in the first place!