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Pacific Sheet Metal Blog

Preventing Ice Dams from Forming on Your Roof

Posted by Joey Haack on Dec 29, 2017 11:01:00 AM | Updated on 07/16/20 1:24 PM


Have you ever had an ice dam problem? If you have icicles dangling from the edges of your roof, the answer is probably yes. Although the icicles lining your roof may look magical, they could end up causing serious damage to your home. Keep reading to learn how ice dams form and what you can do to prevent them this winter.


What are ice dams and how do they form?

If you have snow on your roof that begins to melt, it will naturally flow towards the outer edge of your roof and into your gutters. Melting commonly occurs either when the outdoor temperature rises or when the heat from inside your home rises to the ceiling and into the attic, creating warm patches across your roof’s surface.

Ice dams begin to form when the melted snow begins flowing down your roof but refreezes before it makes its way all the way off. When this happens repeatedly, ice starts to build up and can eventually form heavy, thick ridges. Water then begins to pool behind this “dam” and can potentially seep into your home and cause serious water damage. If this ice builds inside your gutters, the weight can become too much and cause them to break off of your roof and crash to the ground.

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How do I prevent ice dams from forming on my roof?

There are several ways to mitigate this problem, but some solutions may be more effective than others.


Go straight to the source.

To tackle the true problem, you need to figure out the source of the issue, which is often inadequate insulation and/or ventilation inside your attic. If the heat inside your home can make it all the way to the attic, it will create the warm patches we mentioned above. If your attic is sufficiently insulated and the heat produced in your home is properly vented outside instead of into your attic, ice dams shouldn’t threaten your home. Ask your roofing contractor to determine where your ice dam problem truly lies so you can deal with the source of the issue.

Clogged gutters may be another source of your ice dam problem. Make sure your gutters are cleared of debris so water can flow freely when it needs to and ice buildup won't become an issue and cause damage.


Heat Tape

While heat tape can be an effective way to prevent ice dams from building on your roof, remember that they don’t necessarily remedy the true problem. Heat tape can, however, effectively prevent too much ice buildup on your roof and in your gutters by cutting channels through ice dams to create a path for water to safely flow off your roof. Heat tape is installed in a zigzag pattern on your roof. It can also be placed in your gutters and downspouts to keep water melted so it can flow safely to the ground and away from your home’s foundation before it refreezes.


Roof Ice Melt (RIM) System

The RIM system is another option. It will melt the snow and ice across your entire roof via thermally conductive metal panels. If thick, heavy ice typically builds on your roof in the winter, this could be a good solution for you.


If you aren’t sure which option is best for you, ask a pro! Pacific can inspect your home and determine the best solution for your ice dam problem. Contact us for ice dam prevention and roofing services in or around Aspen, Colorado. We look forward to working with you! 

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Topics: roofing