blog detail

Put in the Work Now to Avoid Ice Damming

October 30, 2023
Jeremy Hough
Read Time
3 minutes

Have you ever been amazed at the unbelievable icicles hanging from the roofs during winter? As wondrous as these seem, they are actually quite dangerous – not only to the unfortunate person who walks under them but to the house as well. That’s why it’s essential to avoid ice damming by knowing what, exactly, causes them, and how to prevent them from forming in the first place.

These are the result of ice dams. If your home has marched into snow season with clogged gutters, there is nowhere for the water to drain as the snow on your roof begins to melt, resulting in ice damming. In this article, we explain what is ice damming, why ice dams occur, and how you can prevent ice dams.

What is Ice Damming?

So, what is ice damming, exactly? An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining off. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into the home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and even your foundation.

How Does Ice Damming Occur?

When there is snow on the roof and the roof’s outside surface temperature is above 32°F the snow will begin to melt. As the water flows down the pitch of the roof, where the temperature is below 32°F, the water reaches its freezing point again, turns to ice, and each successive flow of water causes the ice to get bigger and bigger until it forms a dam blocking any more water from flowing off the roof. This water finds cracks and openings in the exterior roof and drips into the attic space. From the attic, it could seep into the insulation, or flow through the ceiling insulation and stain the ceiling finish. And possibly cause serious damage to your home’s foundation.

In many communities throughout the country, it’s possible to find homes that do not have ice dams. Many of homeowners have taken the time to keep their house gutters clear of autumn debris, which can help prevent ice dams. If you never got around to climbing the ladder and removing the dead leaves and assorted gunk that has accumulated, take a few minutes after the next big storm and look at your house from top to bottom, checking areas with heavy snow or ice accumulation. If there seems to be an accumulation of snow, a little bit of action can avoid having to take a lot of action to handle a disaster later.

Be mindful however that two feet of snow might look easy to manage, but remember how heavy that snow is when you try to shovel it off the driveway! Picture how heavy that snow and ice will be when stretched across your 40 feet of gutters or 200 square feet of slanted roof. Sounds like a lot, right?

If an ice damming problem does arise, and it’s an emergency, you can take immediate action by removing the snow from your roof as carefully as possible. Use a roof rake or a push broom. Be careful though, because it is easy to damage the roofing material. If the water is flowing fast and furious through the ceiling, cut channels through the ice dam allowing the back water to flow through and drain off the roof.

Preventing Ice Damming

LeafFilter can be custom installed on top of your existing house gutters before next winter, avoiding the need to ever disturb your roof and shingles. LeafFilter will protect your roof’s warranty and your home from leaks into the basement or foundation. LeafFilter gutter guards have no holes, no gaps, and no openings — meaning that nothing but water will ever pass through our filter and into your house gutters and downspouts, eliminating the worry of clogged gutters and ice dams next winter.