Tips for Preventing Ice Dams

November 20, 2013

As winter descends on North America, freezing temperatures and severe weather become more common and problematic. One major concern as a result of heavy precipitation and freezing temperatures is the formation of ice dams. These can be costly problems during the winter since ice dams can lead to water damage in the roof and attic. If these are not address, they can cause more long term property damage that could require thousands of dollars in repairs, especially if the roof is seriously affected. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to prevent ice dams from forming in the first place.


Clean Drains and Gutters

One of the easiest ways to prevent ice from forming along the roof is to keep your gutters clear of debris. This also includes downspouts and drains. Keeping these free of vegetation and debris will ensure that water flows smoothly through and doesn’t accumulate and freeze.


Insulate Vents and other Openings

In the attic you want to insulate all openings and vents to prevent airflow in and out. Sealing and insulating them is the best way to prevent snow melt running of the roof and into the gutters and freezing. You also want to seal and weatherstrip all access doors in the attic.


Relocate Heat Sources and Insulate Light Fixtures

Any heat source that is installed in the open attic should be removed or relocated. Too much heat building in the attic will melt snow on the roof and the water flowing to the gutters will freeze if temperatures permit. Any light fixtures in the ceiling should be insulated as well, as this heat can infiltrate the attic.


Install Heating Cables to the Roof or Drainage

If ice dams are a regular concern to your home, you may consider connecting heating cables to the drainage to prevent ice buildup. You can also install these cables on the roof and connect them to the drainage system so the melting ice flows naturally through the drains without freezing.

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