Keep Your Roof Free of Ice Dams This Winter With These Recommendations

With winter can come snow and ice, especially on your roof. Roof ice dam formation can cause damage to your roof and lead to leaks inside your home. Here are some recommendations you can take to prevent ice dam formation.


Install Proper Insulation

Because an inefficient amount and quality of insulation in your attic can allow heat to escape your home and flow into your attic space, this can heat up the attic and your roof deck, causing ice dams to form on your roof. It is recommended to keep the underside of your roofing deck to stay at 30 degrees F and below to prevent the snow from melting on your roof, which can be accomplished by preventing your home's heat from leaking into your attic space. 

Batting insulation installed between the rafters inside your attic can allow heat to escape through cracks around ventilation pipes, electrical outlets, and access hatchways, as the batting can allow gaps to form. A more optimal type of insulation is a blown-in cellulose or foam insulation, which can be sprayed between the attic rafters to seal them completely. As this type of insulation attaches to the surfaces inside your attic and even expand, it seals out all cracks and gaps. 

It may be beneficial to hire a roofing and insulation professional to check the efficiency of your attic's insulation to offer upgrade and alteration recommendations. They can also help you seal off any cracks around duct work and electrical cables with insulation mastic and caulk, and install interior flashing around an existing chimney.

Vent Your Attic

After you have added any required insulation to your attic, it is helpful to make sure your attic has enough ventilation, which will additionally ensure your roof stays cold. It is recommended to install at least one square-foot of attic ventilation opening for every 300 square feet of attic floor. Attic and roof ventilation or baffles can be installed on the side of your home under its eaves, along the underside of your roofing soffits, and even along the ridge of your roof. 

Inspect your attic for the amount of ventilation it currently has, or you can hire a roofing professional to do this inspection. If your roof needs additional ventilation to meet the above requirements to help prevent ice dams, your roofing professional can install them for you.


Completing interior improvements to your attic and roof are the best methods to use, as they prevent ice dam formation on your roof. As a temporary solution to an ice dam problem, you can complete these exterior improvements to give you more time and avoid roof damage until the time comes you can make more permanent adjustments to your attic insulation and ventilation.

Install Heat Cables

Heating cables installed on the edge of your roof and above the eaves is a good option to melt any ice dam formation. The heating cables should be installed into an outlet that you can easily turn on and off, as needed. It is important that you don't leave the heating cables connected to a constant source of power, as this can cause them to burn out. They should be installed in a zigzag pattern on the edge of your roof without allowing the cables to touch one another, as this can also cause them to also burn out. 

Take care of your roof gutter and downspout. If you have flat roofing, then take care of any drains, as these can all become frozen over as the melted ice water re-freezes in these areas. Place heating cables around the edges of roof drains and along the interior of your roof gutters and downspouts. This will keep them from freezing and clogging to cause melt water to back up onto your roof and cause further ice dam problems.

Remove Roof Snow 

By removing snow from the edges of your roof, it will prevent the snow from melting and freezing along the edge of the roof. It is important to remove the snow from the edge of your roof as soon as possible after each snow storm. 

You can purchase a roof rake from most roofing and home improvement stores. Be sure to only use a plastic roof rake and not a metal one, as a metal rake can cause damage to your roof materials. 

Use these tips to help keep your roof free of damaging ice dams.