How To Prevent & Eliminate Winter Ice Damming

While most homeowners have likely heard of ice damming, many people are unsure of how ice damming is caused, how damaging it can be to their roof, and how they can prevent ice damming from ever forming or causing damage.

In this article, we answer each of these questions and provide some helpful tips on how to ensure your home and roof are protected during the winter months and beyond.

What is ice damming?

Ice dams are ridges of ice that form at the edge of a roof due to continuous melting and refreezing of snow. This ice blocks snow and water from draining off of roofs and can cause foundational issues and leaking in improperly insulated and ventilated homes.

What causes ice damming?

Caused by inclement weather (heavy snow then warm temperatures) and/or poorly insulated attic heat-escape that melts snow, ice damming occurs due to lack of insulation or the backing up of frozen slush from eavestroughs. For ice dams to form, snow on a roof must be present, and higher parts of the roof must be warmer than lower parts of the roof. As snow on the higher part of the roof melts, and water begins to trickle down to cooler parts of the roof, ice forms and a dam begins to build.

Graphic showing how Ice Dams are formed and how to prevent them

Risks of Ice Damming

When melting snow turns to water and begins to run under snow on your roof, the water can reach your unheated soffits area and refreeze. This causes a dam that can easily push under your shingles, causing water to enter your attic. In result, homeowners can face damage to:

  • Interior walls
  • Ceiling
  • Insulation
  • Roof deck

Tips For Preventing Ice Damming

To reduce the likelihood of ice dam formation during cold winters, we suggest that all homeowners consider the following advice:

Removing Snow

Whenever you notice that snow is building up on your roof, it’s always a smart idea to have the snow removed. Removal prevents snow from ever having a chance to melt and refreeze to form an ice dam.

If you are able to use a roofing rake safely, you can remove snow on the lower edges of your roof yourself. However, removing snow can be extremely dangerous, so it is always suggested that you call a professional roofer who can rake, melt, and remove the snow from your roof in the safest way possible. Call Roof Pro Plus at 1.888.677.7757 to learn more about snow removal.

Attic Insulation

Keep your attic space cold by properly insulating it to prevent major heat loss. This will prevent your home from allowing snow on your roof to melt and then freeze due to varying temperatures.

Also, be sure to have baffles installed when having your roof re-insulated. Baffles will ensure airflow and proper ventilation beginning at the eaves.


To make sure that snow and ice do not back up or pile up, ensure that your home’s eavestroughs are sloped properly so that water will drain when it melts. It is also important that you have your eavestroughs inspected and serviced so that they are always free of debris. The best way to prevent debris build-up is to invest in a Gutter Guard – which can be purchased as part of your complete roofing package.

Water Shields

Water shields create a watertight envelope at the eaves above the eavestrough and can greatly reduce the odds of an ice-damming leak.

All homeowners should install at least three feet of ice and water shield at the eaves of all heated roof decks in conjunction with a metal drip edge or eavestarter. However, given our rugged Canadian climate, we suggest that those with a lower pitched room should install at least six feet of ice and water shielding.

Homeowners should invest in high performing Deck Defense underlayment, which improves leak protection and prevents mold (when installed under your shingles).


Proper ventilation will ensure that your roof and attic are functioning as intended. Ventilation will keep your roof temperatures uniform – allowing heat to escape through expertly installed passive vents. When heat transfer is controlled properly, your attic will remain dry, and your eaves will remain clear of ice.

Contact Roof Pro Plus Today

Our complete roofing system and emergency services will ensure you and your family are protected all year round. Should you wish to proactively prevent ice damming or to have your ice damming removed, please call us today at 1-888-677-7757.

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