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Ice Damming

Understanding and Preventing Ice Damming: A Comprehensive Guide

As temperatures quickly drop, you may face a common yet often misunderstood issue – ice damming. These icy culprits can wreak havoc on your home, causing water damage and structural issues. In this blog post, we'll delve into what ice damming is, why it occurs, and most importantly, how to prevent and address it.

What is Ice Damming?

Ice damming is a phenomenon that occurs when snow on a roof melts and then refreezes at the roof's edge. This ice buildup in the gutter prevents proper drainage, leading to water penetration between the facia and roof’s edge.  It can also accumulate in dead valley’s and even enter under roof shingles. As the ice or water accumulates and comes in contact with the heated areas of the home the thaw can happen. Once the transformation to water occurs it is only a matter of time before the water enters your home. For a great visual explanation see this YouTube video from Travelers Insurance

Causes of Ice Damming

  • Inadequate Insulation: Poor insulation allows heat to escape from the interior of the house, raise the temperature in the attic causing snow and ice melt. 
  • Uneven Roof Temperature: Variations in roof temperature can contribute to uneven melting of snow, leading to ice dam formation.
  • Clogged Gutters: Debris in gutters can obstruct water flow, causing it to back up and contribute to ice damming.
  • Lack of Ventilation: Insufficient roof ventilation traps warm air, promoting ice or snowmelt and ice dam formation.

Preventing Ice Damming

  • Proper Insulation: Ensure that your attic is well-insulated to minimize heat loss through the roof. This helps maintain a consistent roof temperature.
  • Ventilation: Adequate roof ventilation allows for proper airflow, preventing warm air from accumulating and melting snow unevenly.
  • Sealing Air Leaks: Seal any gaps or cracks in your home's attic and roof to prevent warm air from escaping.
  • Gutter Maintenance: Regularly clean gutters and downspouts to prevent debris buildup, ensuring proper water drainage.
  • Roof Raking: Safely remove accumulated snow from the roof using a roof rake, especially in areas prone to ice damming.
  • In areas where ice damming is common and a persistent problem, we recommend installing gutter guards and possibly heating elements that can be turned on in severe weather conditions. Use only heating elements made specifically for this purpose. 

Addressing Existing Ice Dams

Professional Removal: If ice dams have already formed, it's crucial to consult professionals for safe removal to prevent damage to the roof and gutters.

Deicing Products: Use calcium chloride or other approved deicing products to melt the ice. Avoid using rock salt, as it can damage roofing materials.

Roof Inspection: Conduct a thorough inspection of your roof for any damage caused by ice damming. Address any issues promptly to prevent further leaks.


Ice damming is a common winter woe, but with proper prevention and maintenance, homeowners can protect their roofs and interiors from potential damage. By addressing the root causes and taking proactive measures, you can ensure a winter season free from the headaches of ice damming. Stay warm, stay dry!

At Republic Roofing we are can always provide a free no obligation inspection of your ice damming issue to make a professional assessment and recommendation. Contact us or call 317-747-0072. 

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