How to Prevent Ice Dams

Man uses a snow rake to prevent ice dams on his home in Ontario

Preventing ice dams on your roof can be a big task during the Ontario winter. Ice dams are created when melted snow refreezes on the edge of your roof, creating huge icicles and lodging chunks of ice in your gutters. Ice dams can cause major damages to shingles and eavestrough, as well as creating leaks in the roof itself.

Thankfully, there are a number of ways to prevent ice dams. The Halwell Mutual Team has written this blog to help you plan how to your prevention strategy for the winter of 2016. We hope our tips are helpful!

How Ice Dams Are Formed

You can spot ice dams by looking for huge icicles on the eaves of your house. These icicles are formed when snow melts on your roof and then refreezes as it trickles down to the edge.

The main cause of an ice dam is unequal heating of the roof. We all know that warm air rises, which means it is likely to accumulate in the top area of the roof — especially in a home that is poorly ventilated! But while the top of the roof is warm and melts snow, the edges will remain cold. This is what causes the snowmelt to refreeze and create ice dams in the gutters.

Ice Dam Solutions

There are a number of solutions to ice dams, if you notice them on your roof. It’s always better to start at the source and prevent future issues. We will start with these long-term fixes first and then consider some of the other options!

Insulation & Ventilation

If you are living in an older home, then chances are your attic is poorly insulated and/or poorly ventilated. Seal openings on the lower levels to prevent warm air from entering the attic from below. Then ensure you have vents exiting the attic, allowing warmer air to freely escape to the outdoors. Talk to a professional to create proper ventilation for your attic.

Roof Snow Removal

One way to prevent snowmelt is to simply remove the excess snow from the roof of your house on a regular basis! This can be done with a tool like a snow rake or by simply a regular shovel, if you have a flatter roof that is safe to climb on. Avoid standing on a ladder to scoop snow off or climbing on a slippery roof. These are both easy ways to injure yourself, so be careful!

Install Roof Heating Coils

Heating coils can be installed along the edge of your roof, on top of the shingles, to prevent ice dams as well. These coils run off electricity to provide uniform heating and help snowmelt drain properly from the roof into the gutters. Some models can be configured to activate only when something cold is on them, so you can conserve energy and not have them running 24/7.

Home Insurance for Water Damage

If you do have issues with ice dams, one of these permanent solutions is always preferable. But there is no guarantee that they will work 100% of the time. Having home insurance means that you will be covered if a leak does develop in your roof and causes water damage. Make sure your home is protected — even during the Ontario winter!

Contact a broker today to learn more about home insurance options.