How to Prevent Ice Dams

If you live in Michigan, it’s safe to assume you know a thing or two about a frigid winter. People living in colder states generally need to have certain measures in place to keep their homes running efficiently in the winter.

As experts in the industry, Four Seasons Kanga Roof sees many Michigan homeowners suffering from ice dams each year. Ice dams, while potentially damaging to your home, are entirely preventable. Below you’ll find out everything you need to know to keep ice dams off your roof and what you can do if you discover they’re already on the eaves! 

What Is an Ice Dam?

Ice dams can be dangerous and devastating when there is a lot of snow. When water from melting snow pours down the side of a rooftop and freezes again, it creates an impediment that keeps snow on your roof and is known as an ice dam.

Warm air in the attic space warms the base of a roof, causing the snow to melt. Temperature changes can also contribute to the melting. As the water from the melted snow tries to run off the roof, it ends up accumulating on the deck above the eaves.

Because this area isn’t heated by the attic, it’s typically where the ice starts to build. As the water starts to get colder, more ice forms, obstructing the succeeding run-off and forming a larger dam.

Ice dams on your home may look like:

  • Ice forming along the gutters or the edge of the roof
  • Any ice on the siding of your home
  • Ice building up on top of and in gutters or the lower edge of the roof
  • Ice inside or around a window frame
  • Ice pouring out of the soffit vents

It’s important that you don’t try to remove the ice yourself. If you reach out to Four Seasons Kanga Roof, we can handle the job with our comprehensive methods that prevent further damage to your home. 

Why are Ice Dams Harmful?

You may be asking yourself, “what’s wrong with ice dams?” Ice dams are dangerous for a multitude of reasons. Whether you’ve just discovered some on your home or you’re curious about why preventing them is so important, here are a handful of the main reasons why you shouldn’t want ice dams on your house:

Water Leaks Into Your Home 

Water leaks from your roof and into your house frequently result from ice jams. This water can cause all kinds of costly interior water damage, as well as electrical problems, fires, black mold, the destruction of furniture and belongings, and even the displacement of your family.

Sometimes you can observe a small amount of leaking before it becomes serious, but other times the leaks are severe right away. Leaking is the most pressing reason to get ice dams cleared, and it’s also one of the most dangerous risks you’ll take if you wait. 

Ice Dams Attract More Ice 

Icicles frequently occur on or around ice dams because snow likes to cling to or add upon them. Ice and snow can fall from your roof, causing property damage, injuries to anyone nearby, and in some circumstances, death.

Your Roof Could Collapse

Roof collapses aren’t as common as you might expect, but it’s worth mentioning because they can occur if your roof has an excessive amount of ice on it. Ice dams can weigh hundreds of pounds, and the roof snow they block can add even more weight on top of that.

The combined weight of ice dams and snow is simply too much for some roofs to bear, especially if you have an older roof. 

How to Prevent Ice Dams

It is better for you and your property to learn how to minimize ice dams on the roof than it is to learn how to remove and get rid of them yourself. There’s no denying that fixing a roof can be expensive, and preventing ice dams in the first place can make it less likely that you’ll have to dip into savings for roof repairs.

Snow removal, insulation, and gutter helmets are a few of the common methods for preventing ice dams. Let’s take a look at some ways you can prevent this harmful ice buildup from taking over your roof:

Raking Your Roof  

Your attic can become insulated by the snow that accumulates and piles on your roof. When the attic is heated enough to melt the snow, the water that collects will run to the gutters. If there’s nowhere else for the water to go, it will just build up into ice or seep into your attic.

When it comes to ice dam remedies, raking your roof is one of the most common solutions. Whether you have a metal roof or a flat roof, this method can help prevent too much ice from forming. Purchase a roof rake and use it to remove the snow from the base of the roof after each snowfall to avoid ice dams.

It’s one of the most inexpensive methods of protection, but it does require some effort to ensure that the snow doesn’t accumulate throughout the winter. Roof rakes are designed to be operated from the ground, so you don’t have to risk being on your roof. 

Use Heat Tape 

Installing gutter warmers to prevent ice dams is the greatest solution for a worry-free winter. Gutter guards can keep material out of your gutters, but they can’t always prevent ice from developing. These guards are a great option for people with multiple slopes and valleys across their roofs.

It can be difficult to properly insulate a sloped roof, and this is where prevention products can come into play. Helmet Heat is a self-regulating warming circuit that can be used in tandem with a Gutter Helmet system to eliminate ice blockages.

When the weather becomes cooler, Heat Tape kicks in to keep the temperature of your gutters above freezing, ensuring adequate water flow down to the ground. It does not need any maintenance and uses very little energy.

Insulate Your Attic

Are you wondering how to prevent ice dams in roof valleys or how to prevent ice dams from forming on low slope roofs? Insulating roof valleys can feel like a task. Despite many homeowners thinking it’s gutters that are the issue, the attic of your home is often the main culprit when it comes to ice dams.

Having the roof properly insulated can make a world of difference, no matter what type of roof you have. A poorly insulated attic will rapidly melt the snow on your roof, dumping the extra water into the gutters. When the water hits the gutters, it freezes again because they are always the same temperature as the air outdoors.

When shingles remain at the same temperatures as the air outside a well-insulated attic, the snow doesn’t melt. You may either use a snow rake to clear the snow or allow the sun to do it while concurrently warming the gutters to generate a steady stream of downward drainage.

Call the Professionals 

Before ice dams become more than you can handle, you should hire a company like Four Seasons Kanga Roof that specializes in this type of work. Our professionals are licensed and will remove the ice and snow from your roof using special equipment, including high-temperature/low-pressure steamers.

Hiring one of our friendly team members can save your house from major damage. It truly is essential not to do this work yourself. Doing so can put your life in danger, and there’s also a risk of causing significant damage to your home.

Give us a call or reach out online, and we’ll happily help get rid of the problem. We can even help with underlying issues, such as needed roof maintenance.