Preventing Ice Dams Before They Happen

If you regularly experience harsh winters, you may be familiar with ice dams. These are thick ridges of ice that build up along the edges of your roof or gutters, blocking any water from running off, and potentially leading to leaks and seepage through the shingles.

How Do Ice Dams Form?

After a heavy snowfall, snow may settle on your roof. Any heat escaping from the house will begin to melt this snow, causing water to drain into the eaves and gutters. Here, it will refreeze as ice and build up over time, creating a dam-like effect and preventing any further drainage. This can cause major roof damage, luckily Authentic Restoration is here to help.

What Damage Can Ice Dams Do?

A thick ridge of ice balanced precariously on the eaves of your house presents an obvious health and safety hazard to any passersby, should it break and fall. It can also cause structural damage to your roof and gutters.

The sheer weight of the ice can eventually lead to the gutter fasteners giving way and the gutters pulling away from your house. In addition to this, the accumulation of water on your roof may eventually lead to seepage under the shingles and into the interior of your home.

What Causes Ice Dams?

A significant factor in the build-up of ice dams is the quality of the insulation in your home. If heat can’t escape from your home through the roof, it can’t melt the snow. Additional circumstances such as the presence of gutter debris contribute to the ice growth by creating a place for the water to settle and refreeze.

How To Prevent Ice Dams

Prevention is better than restoration. If you’re heading into the winter season, ensure your gutters are cleaned and free of leaves and debris. Consider investing in a product such as Rhino Gutter Guards to help prevent blockages and allow water drainage.

Also, reduce heat leakage from your house by insulating the attic and ensuring any vent holes and windows are sealed up correctly; if you’re unsure whether your home insulation is up to standard, we recommend consulting a reputable building contractor for an assessment.

Other measures can be taken such as installing a product like CertainTeed’s WinterGuard™ as an underlay while roofing your home.

If winter has already arrived, however, it’s not too late to mitigate any damage. Small steps can be taken to prevent the ice dams from forming.

The Dos and Don’ts of Gutter Maintenance:


  • Perform regular checks of your property, internally and externally. Look for bulges in the gutters that may indicate the presence of an ice dam. Check interior ceilings for damp circles or water drops that may signify a leak.
  • Remove snow from the roof throughout the winter months, especially if your roof is flat.
  • Use Calcium Chloride ice melter to melt ice. Fill one leg of a pair of old pantyhose with the product and place it on the roof with one end hanging over the ice dam; this will melt a channel through the ice ridge for water to drain away.


  • Attempt to climb onto your roof to clear snow. This is very hazardous, especially in winter conditions.
  • Always work from ground level.
  • Attempt to break up ice ridges using a pick or ax, as this may damage your roof shingles.
    Use rock salt to melt the ice because it will have a corrosive effect on your shingles.

If you think your roof may be experiencing damage from ice dams, give us a call at Authentic Restoration. Early assessment and repair will save you money in the long run.