4 Things You Need to Know About Ice Dams


It’s here again. That time of year in Michigan when you can tell a poorly insulated roof from all the rest. If you spot icicles hanging from the eaves, it’s likely a sign of heat loss and ground zero for destructive ice dams. Before we look at how to prevent ice dams, let’s understand how they come about.

As snow builds up on the roof, it tends to melt during the daylight hours. Snow water then funnels downward to the eave, where it freezes and becomes an ice dam. Eventually, the ice dam works its way up the roof and beneath the shingles. From there, water has nowhere to go but into your home.

Short-term Fixes

While ice dam removal isn’t really an option, there are easy solutions to avoid ice dams. Start by keeping the eave edge and roof valleys free of snow. We recommend using a snow rake. Also keep gutters clear of debris so that water doesn’t back up and freeze along the eave. The bad news? While raking is helpful, it fails to fix the core problem.

Another short-term fix is heat tape: a low-voltage electrical cable designed to create channels within the ice dams. Rather than thawing, refreezing, and then backing up, ice melt doesn’t refreeze so the water flows freely into your gutters. As with clearing away snow, heat tape is a way to minimize the impact of ice dams. But it’s not ideal. If you rely on this solution, be sure to have your cable checked annually; our teams frequently come across cables that are non-functional or simply not turned on.

Long-term Solution for Ice Dam Prevention

Ice damming is a direct result of heat loss. Typically, when attic temperatures are the same as outside, ice damming isn’t an issue. To maintain these conditions, it’s essential to have proper insulation and roof ventilation.

Insulation serves to reduce the amount of heat that escapes through the roof and, in turn, prevents the snowmelt that leads to ice damming. While insulation is necessary, it is less effective without adequate ventilation.

Intake ventilation, often found at the eave, in the soffit or on the gable, draws cool air into your attic while pushing the warm air out. Working together, insulation and ventilation are the one-two punch needed to eliminate ice dams once and for all.

Schedule a Free Inspection

If you’re noticing ice dams or excessive icicle buildup, it’s important to address the problem early. Don’t wait for water damage to wreak havoc. Our roofing experts will give you a free quote to keep your home free from water damage. While we have outlined short-term fixes, there’s nothing like the peace of mind that comes with a long-term solution.

Your home is a major investment. Trust it to a roofing company consistently rated the best in Michigan. Our experts are here to help.

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