4 Factors That Lead to Ice Dams

ice dam causes

Ice dams form as melted snow refreezes on your roof and can cause significant damage to your home. The root cause of this ice buildup is heat, either from inside your home or from the sun.

While you can’t do anything about the sun, and we highly doubt anyone wants to go without interior heat for the duration of winter, there are several contributing factors that encourage the development of ice dams.

Insufficient Insulation
Heat loss from the attic melts snow on your roof, which can then refreeze when it reaches the eaves. An effectively insulated attic can mitigate heat loss, reducing the risk of ice dams from heat loss.

Lack of Ventilation
Allowing cold air to circulate under your roof can prevent interior heat from creating ice dams. Installing vents in the eaves and along the roof ridge can help to keep the roof temperature closer to the cooler temperatures along the eaves.

Poor Roof Design
Some roof layouts are more conducive to ice dams than others. In general, flat roofs, dormers and tall roofs where upper levels cast shadows on lower roof areas are more prone to ice dams. Anywhere snow and ice could accumulate is a potential spot for an ice dam.

Shade or Lack of Sunlight
Some areas of your roof likely get less sunlight than others. In North America, roofs facing north get little direct sun, and trees or other objects may make this worse. Without significant direct sun, snow will melt when the temperature rises, but will be prone to refreezing and forming ice dams before it runs off the roof.

Whether these factors can be controlled or not will depend on your roof. If you do have an ice dam problem, one effective solution is to heat the roof in order to provide water from melted snow a clear path to the ground.

Warmquest offers various products for heating and deicing roofs. Our GutterMelt heat tracing cables can be installed on an existing roof and clear a path for water to run off of the eave. Our ZMesh and Invizimelt systems can be installed beneath your roof covering and heat the entire area, removing snow and preventing ice build up before ice dams form.

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