How to Prevent Ice Dams

Dec 12 2016

Make sure your home is ready for Minnesota’s winter! Ice dams are a common concern, and if they aren’t taken care of, you could deal with heavy water damage in your home. Check out our helpful infographic to discover how to prevent ice dams from damaging your roof and learn the steps to take if one does form on your roof.


What Are Ice Dams?

Ice dams form when snow melts, trickles down your roof, and refreezes near the edge. They are dangerous because ice dams usually lead to leaky roofs. Eventually, they may also cause your roof to completely collapse.

The best way to prevent ice dams is to keep your roof cold. When a roof’s temperature rises above 32° F, the snow on top begins to melt, but the roof’s edge remains below freezing. When the melted snow meets the frozen edge of your roof, ice dams, and icicles form.

3 Steps to Keep Your Roof Cold


1. Close Up Attic Apertures

In the average home, about 33% of heat loss is caused by air leaks. Air goes through the ceiling and escapes into the attic because of unblocked walls, gaps in drywall, and cracks. These leaks result in lost energy and wasted money.

While semi-difficult to stop, air leaks can be fixed with proper treatment. Follow these steps to repair air leaks:

  1. Safely climb into your attic
  2. Pull or rake back insulation
  3. Plug leaks using foam, caulk, or other durable materials

Note: Always wear a dust mask, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants to help prevent skin irritations caused by insulation.


2. Measure Your Attic Insulation Level

While you’re in the attic, check the depth of your attic insulation. The recommended depth is 10-14 inches of insulation depending on R-value (the ability of your insulation to resist heat flow).

Blown-in cellulose insulation and fiberglass are typically the best options for keeping heat in. Insulation blower machines can be complicated, especially if you don’t know how to properly blow in the insulation on your own.

Materials can become expensive if you don’t properly install the insulation on your first try. Hiring a professional like Rapid Restoration to help could save you time, energy, and the headache of doing it yourself. Give us a call or request a consultation online today!


3. Add Roof and Soffit Vents

Attic ventilation draws in cold outdoor air and flushes out warmer attic air, cooling the attic and the roof in the process. How many vents will you need in your attic? The rule of thumb is about one square foot vent for every 150 square feet of attic floor space.

Measuring your existing ventilation area and adding additional vents can be complex. Here’s the general how-to:

Find the Area of Each Existing Vent

Each vent in your attic should already have its area stamped on the side. Write each measurement down and then calculate how many vents you currently have compared to how many you actually need.

Install Vents in the Right Places

As a general rule, install an 8 x 16-in. vent on the underside of every other rafter space’s overhang or soffit. Also, install a continuous ridge vent near the roof’s peak. If your roof’s ridge is shaped more like a pyramid, install a square-shaped vent near the peak instead.

Pro-Tip: If you are rebuilding the soffit, a continuous 2-½-in. wide strip bent will look better than an 8 x 16-in. vent.

Alternate Route: Use a Snow Rake

Alternatively, you could use a snow rake to speed up the process:

  1. Rake the snow off your roof with a roof rake.
  2. Install heated cables in uneven parts of your roof like valleys.
  3. When reroofing, add an additional ice and water barrier to prevent leaks.

Large ice dams can cause a lot of damage to your roof and gutters. Keeping your roof cold will help stop air leaks and mitigate ice dams. This will save energy and reduce both your heating and your air conditioning bills. If you think you may have an ice dam problem, contact Rapid Restoration today to learn about our water damage and ice dam removal services!

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