How Does an Ice Dam Form?

Icicles can be beautiful, but if left hanging, they can loosen shingles, tear off your gutters, and cause a backup of water into your home. That sure doesn’t sound pretty, right? Even though they are a given in snowy areas, you can reduce them or even eliminate them altogether.

How Ice Dams Form
Ice dams form along the edge of your roof. Their formation prevents the melted snow from properly draining off your roof. The water back-up they cause can damage your ceilings, walls, insulation and other parts of your home.

Ice dams form when you have warm air in your attic and a warm roof, which causes snow on the roof to melt after a heavy snowfall. The resulting water runs down your roof and once it gets to the colder roof edge it refreezes and forms a mound of ice.

This ice mound traps the melted water and causes it to seep up back under your shingles, dripping through your roof into your home. This is when the damage happens.

Below are some tips to reduce and eliminate ice dams.

Tips to Reduce or Eliminate Ice Dams
Here are some easy tips to get rid of your ice dam problem.

Attach Heating Cables
Attach heating cables along the edge of your roof with clips in a zigzag pattern. This will allow you to heat up your roof from the outside to equalize its temperature rather than blowing in colder air from indoors. Be sure you have the heating cables installed before the snowy weather hits.

Rake it
Use a long-handled roof rake to pull the snow off. You can use a rake that has wheels to change your roof’s exterior temperature instantly without causing any damage to your shingles.

Check the Insulation in your Attic
Investigate the depth of the insulation in your attic. Standard building codes call for around 12 to 14 inches of cellulose or fiberglass insulation. If you have had problems in the past with ice dams or you have less than eight inches of insulation, add more. It’s best to hire a professional to come do this job.

Panty Hose
A pair of panty hose works great for diminishing the damage that ice dams leave behind. Add some calcium chloride ice melter to a pair of panty hose and lay them on your roof having them hang over your gutters and cross over the ice dams.

You can eliminate ice dams for good. All you need to do is keep your roof and eaves the same temperature. This can be done by adding insulation, increasing ventilation through an attic fan, and sealing off any potential air leak that could possibly warm the underside of your roof. Easy fixes like these can help you remove trouble areas and enjoy a winter free of ice dams.

Check out our selection of attic fans here at, so you never have to deal with the damage left behind by an ice dam.