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Cause Of Ice Dams

 What exactly are ice dams? How do they form? Can a homeowner do anything to stop them?

The answer is yes. There are preventative measures you can take as a homeowner to prevent and eliminate roof damage caused by ice dams. However, it is important to understand exactly how ice dams form in the first place. 

Wintry Buildup

Ice Dams generally form when the outdoor temperature is above 20 degrees and either the sun shines down warming the roof or the attic temperature is above freezing. When this happens, the warmer temperature of the shingles can cause the snow on the roof to melt. When the snowmelt runs down to the colder eaves, it refreezes. This is especially true if the temperature starts to drop again.

If this cycle repeats over several days, the ice builds up and forms a dam of ice which prevents exits for the water to drain. Behind that dam, water will start to pool into large ponds, and it can back up under the roof shingles and leak into the attic or along the exterior walls. This can quickly damage drywall and create mold and mildew problems.

The right weather conditions for ice dams are usually when outdoor air temperatures are in the low 20's (°F) for several days and there are several inches of snow on the roof.

Cross Section of Home and Ice Dams


Things To Avoid

You may think the easiest fix is to try to break up that ice dam, but this is extremely dangerous and could cause more damage which could literally add thousands of dollars in roof repairs.

Investigate ways to keep the ice from forming on the eave or in the gutters. It is estimated that 75% of all ice dams form in the gutter or on the very eave of a roof. 

Check out our IceArmour®  Products under the Products tab to see your Ice Dam Solutions.