How to spot, What causes, and Prevent for future; Ice Dams

Why does it matter if you have ice dams?

One of the most important reasons is the fact that ice dams can result in costly repairs to your home!

Ceiling stains are the very first indication that water is damaging your house. If this is caused by ice dams, it may be just the beginning. Water from ice dams have been known to cause bulging walls, mold, and may even cause water to drip from ceiling fixtures!

These problems are not only unsightly but can cause long term, expensive damage.

How do you know if you have Ice Dams?

3 Things to Watch for on your house:
  1. Long icicles
  2. After a snowfall, you may notice portions of your roof where snow has melted while the rest of the roof remains covered
  3. Ceiling Stains

What Causes Ice Dams?

Ice dams are a ridge of ice at the edge of your roof. This traps water from the melting snow. Since there is nowhere for the water to go, it often begins to seep into your house. Even high-quality roofs have been unable to prevent seepage from stagnant water.

Prevent Ice Dams.

Keep the attic air below freezing. How?

Most likely you would benefit from meeting with a weatherproofing or insulation contractor to do the following:

  1. Seal the living spaces from the attic spaces to prevent your warm air from escaping to the attic.
  2. Ensure there is adequate attic insulation.
  3. Have good attic ventilation to replace the warm attic air with the cold outside air.


Roof Ventilation causing stress for homeowners.

Below is a story of a customer who began having water issues with his home and wasn’t sure what was causing it.

Bob from Independence would get water in his house after a prolonged cold spell and thought it was the fault gutter protection.  The cover had been installed for eight years before he started having the issue with water coming into the house. We made (3) service calls and made some adjustments to the installation, but he still had the problem.  Our team came to the conclusion that it was not an issue with our products design. But we did what we could to rectify the situation.  In our opinion, it was a roofing issue. Being that the vaulted ceilings were not properly ventilated. The homeowner finally agreed to call a roofer – we gave him the name of a roofer we recommend.

It turned out the roof needed to be properly ventilated which the roofer did and that solved the problem.  After seeing the results, Bob came to our office to give the owner a $100 insisting that he use the money to buy pizza for all the installers.  He stated that several of them had been to his house to try to fix his problem and now he learned it wasn’t even our fault.  It was very generous of him to acknowledge that and thank us for our efforts.

In conclusion, if you are having issues with water in the winter, it’s worth wondering if ventilation is the root cause. With the 1st step being to find an expert to help determine what your particular solution will be.

For more detailed information about ice dams and prevention visit State Farm’s Learning Center or University of Minnesota’s Housing Technology website.