Ice Damming: Causes, Effects, and Prevention

What is Ice Damming?

Ice Damming 2

Ice damming is a common problem that occurs during winter months, especially in colder regions. It happens when the heat rising up from your home melts snow on your roof, which then runs down to the eaves and gutters, where it refreezes. The repeated thawing and refreezing of this water creates a block of ice along the roof’s edge, which can cause damage to your home. This repeated occurrence is commonly called a “Freeze/Thaw Cycle.

Causes of Ice Damming

Several factors can contribute to the formation of ice dams. One of the most common causes is inadequate insulation in the attic or roof. When the attic is not well-insulated, heat from the home can escape through the roof, causing snow to melt and refreeze along the roof’s edge. Other factors that can contribute to ice damming include clogged gutters, improper ventilation, and uneven roof temperature.

Effects of Ice Damming

Ice Damming

Ice forming in your gutters can cause significant damage to your home if left untreated. As the ice builds up along the roof’s edge, it can prevent water from draining properly, leading to water damage inside your home. Water can seep into your walls, ceilings, and insulation, causing mold growth and structural damage. In extreme cases, ice dams can even cause your roof to collapse.

How to Prevent

The best way to prevent ice damming is to ensure that your attic and roof are properly insulated and ventilated. This will help to keep the heat inside your home and prevent snow from melting on your roof to quickly in some areas and slower in others. You should also ensure that your gutters are free from debris and that water can flow freely through them. Another preventative measure is to install heat cables along your roof’s edge to help melt ice and prevent it from forming.

When relating Ice Damming to Roofing

The most qualified roofing contractors will discuss this subject with their potential clients. They will also talk about installing an Ice and Water Protector on the Eaves (where the gutters are) and the valleys (where two or more facets of a roof meet). In areas where ICE DAMMING occurs, code will normally call for 1 course of Ice and Water Protector. The BEST contractors will voluntarily install 2 courses of Ice and Water Protector along the eves. This is one of the best ways to protect a home from the damage caused it can cause.


Ice damming is a common problem that can cause significant damage to your home if left untreated. By understanding the causes and effects of ice dams, you can take preventative measures to protect your home. Make sure to properly insulate and ventilate your attic and roof, keep your gutters clean, consider installing heat cables to prevent ice from forming along your roof’s edge. When hiring a roofing contractor only trust a roofer that talks about using 2 courses of Ice and Water Protector. If you have to ask for it, do you trust them to install your roof? Where else may they be cutting corners? By taking these steps, you can help to prevent ice damming and the damage it causes while keeping your home safe and protected during the winter months.

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