an ice dam

How to Prevent Ice Dams From Forming on Your Roof


Ice damming is one the most common and costly roof problems Canadian homeowners face in winter. Here’s what causes the issue and what you can do to prevent it.


What’s an ice dam?

An ice dam is a buildup of ice along the edge of a roof. It may form if the roof is unevenly heated, in which case, the edge tends to be the coldest part of the roof. As ice begins to build up, it forms a dam, which blocks and freezes the melting snow from the higher areas of the roof. Runoff that refreezes will merge with the ice dam, consequently causing it to become bigger.


Ice buildup on roofs can cause water to seep through the shingles, resulting in leaks, property damage and mould or mildew growth.


Icicles on the edge of the roof are a telltale sign of ice damming.


How do you prevent ice damming?

There are a number of steps you can take to keep your roof free of ice:


• Promptly remove snow. Clearing snow off your roof prevents ice from forming. This can be safely done using a roof rake. Alternatively, you could hire a snow removal company to take care of this task.


• Install roof de-icing cables. These electric, heat-emanating cables adhere to the edge of the roof and melt all nearby snow.


• Seal air leaks in your home. Look for areas where air and heat might be leaking into the attic. This sometimes occurs around the trap door.


• Add ceiling insulation. Having ample attic insulation prevents ice damming by decreasing heat loss through the roof.


• Hire an energy professional. An insulation or weatherization contractor can inspect your house to identify heat transfer problems and determine how airtight your ceiling is.


If an ice dam has already formed on your roof, one way to remove it is by spraying it with water on a milder day. Of course, this isn’t an option during a cold snap. To minimize potential damage, you can also, as a temporary solution, create channels through the dam to prevent water from collecting. Otherwise, contact a company in your area that provides snow and ice removal services.


Protect your home with a custom insurance policy

Did you know that some home insurance policies include coverage for ice damming? If you’re looking to upgrade your insurance policy, turn to the experienced brokers at Eisenhauer Insurance in Nova Scotia. Contact us to learn more or to get a free quote.

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