Preventing Ice Dams on Your Roof

January 5, 2020

While we love to enjoy the beautiful snowy weather on the Colorado Front Range during the winter, it’s important to make sure you and your home are protected from potential dangers of the season. Ice dams that may form on the roof of your home are one such occurrence that, with the proper knowledge and proactive preventative measures, can often be avoided.

What is an Ice Dam, and Why Should I Avoid Them?

Preventing Ice Dams on Your Roof - Save Home HeatIce dams occur when sloped roofs of heated homes develop a buildup of melted and re-frozen snow, which is then unable to fully melt and properly drain off the roof. This is known to occur on some lower edges of the roof, where the roof is colder, and can often be spotted by the huge icicles they produce. Ice dams occur most frequently in areas where the roof doesn’t see a lot of sunlight, or which exhibit other potentially problematic conditions.

An unchecked ice dam can result in damage to gutters and downspouts, roofing material and roof sheathing, along with water leakage into the attic and/or the house’s framing, insulation and drywall, potentially causing structural damage and creating costly repairs. Worst-case scenarios could even include electrical safety issues. Lastly, along with water leakage issues also comes the potential for the growth of mold, as well.

Some side effects of ice dams may include:

  • Damage to roofing and roof framing material
  • Damage to gutters and downspouts
  • Damage to insulation from water leakage into the attic
  • Potential mold and mildew growth from water leakage
  • Electrical safety concerns
  • Unsafe outdoor walkways

Pedestrian Concerns, Too!

In addition to potential costly damage to your home and possible indoor air quality (IAQ) and safety issues that ice dams might pose, keep in mind that when the long icicles often associated with them start melting, that improperly directed water may end up refreezing at night on walkways outside around your home – just waiting for someone to fall on their posterior as they approach your front door, or as you work outside during cold weather. We’ve also heard of cases where dislodged icicles have caused direct damage when finally falling from the roof.

Preventative Measures

Energy Star LogoPer ENERGY STAR, one of the most important things you can do to help prevent the formation of ice dams on your roof is to make sure your roof gutters are clear of leaves and other debris. Of course it’s best to address this careful project before the first snowfall. The benefit is that your roof’s drainage system will be able to handle melting snow as quickly and efficiently as possible, helping prevent backups that could lead to the early formation of an ice dam. There are a variety of contractors such as handymen and gutter contractors who can assist you with this important annual fall task.

Poorly Insulated Attic - Save Home Heat in Denver, COPoor or insufficient attic insulation is another common culprit in the formation of ice dams. Allowing excessive heat to escape into the attic space above the insulation can warm up the underside of your roof, melting the snow from below – which can then refreeze and start forming a stubborn ice layer right against the roof. Poorly installed or barely insulated heat ducting in the attic can also have the same effect. Consult a local insulation contractor for assistance, and if further assistance is needing with your ducting, in the Denver-Boulder area contact our team at Save Home Heat Company.

Along with attic insulation, proper attic ventilation is also another part of the formula for taking preventive measures against ice dams forming on your roof. Your roofing or insulation contractor, or trusted handyman, may be the best source for assistance in this area.

More On Safety

Safety first always! Do not attempt to get on your roof to try to clear an ice dam – or get carried away attempting to dislodge it from below (clunk on the head or take a nasty fall!). Without the proper tools and experience you can put yourself at risk to your personal safety, as well as risk further damage to your home thru lack of sufficient knowledge. Best results are achieved by contracting a trusted professional before the winter season approaches, ensuring that you have safe, proper performance of your gutters and downspouts throughout the year.

Heat Tape Systems For Those Special Problem Areas!

Sometimes, the above preventative measures aren’t enough for certain problem areas on your roof, where snow just doesn’t melt and drain as well as it should. If that’s case with your home, in the Boulder-Denver area we recommend that you consult with our licensed Master Electrician at Save Home Heat Company to learn more about a heat tape system for your roof. A professionally designed and installed electric heat tape system can help eliminate ice dam concerns and better safeguard you, your family, and your home from the risks they pose during our widely varying Colorado winters.

Please contact me to schedule a free install quote for a heat tape system for my roof!

You Can Count on our Team

Licensed Master Electrician - Save Home HeatSave Home Heat Company can help expertly protect your Denver area home and your family from the winter weather in many ways. From electric heat tape systems for your roof and full home electrical services, to complete heating and cooling, plumbing and drain services, and all things related, please contact our team today to schedule a free install quote or to schedule a service call with one of our friendly, helpful service representatives.