Check Your Roof for These Signs to Avoid Ice Dams


This winter, as the temperature gets colder and your home starts to heat up, you may start noticing ice dams on your roof. This is a sign that you need to call a professional for an inspection of your roofing insulation and ventilation system. If you wait too long before addressing this problem, it could lead to water damage in the living space of your home. 

In this blog post we will discuss what ice dams are and how they form so you can be sure that your home is protected and you can prevent ice dams this winter.

What are ice dams? 

Ice dams form when melting snow from your roof melts and then refreezes at the edge of the roof. This creates a dam that can back up water under the shingles and your siding or into the exterior walls of your home.

How do ice dams form? 

There are several things that can contribute to the formation of ice dams, including insulation. Many people think living space of your home should be the same temperature as the attic, but your roof temperature should ideally be the same temperature as the outside air. If your insulation is too thick, it can cause buildup of moisture and mold in your attic, or cracking and curling of shingles in the summer. But if your attic is not insulated enough, it can lead to heat loss and cause the snow on your roof surface to melt. This may not seem like a big deal, but if the outside air is still below freezing, the melted snow will freeze again before it makes it all the way off your roof, leading to ice dams, ideally you should have a cold roof in the winter and a hot roof in the summer. 

The Dangers of Ice Dams

Having ice dam buildup on your gutter line may not sound like a big deal, however, this is one of the most common causes of roof damage, gutter damage, and roof leaks. As ice accumulates on your roof edge, it leads to too much weight on your gutters, causing sagging, as well as allowing water to leak through your shingles and roof deck. 


Ventilation is very important to the proper temperature and moisture of your home and attic space. If you have too much insulation, or improper roof vents, when you take a hot shower, use the sink, cook on your stove, or send hot air through your dryer vents, it can cause moisture to build up in your attic space leading to mold, and rot. Roof vents help to expel this moisture and keep the temperature regulated in your attic.

Another important reason for ventilation is that the warm air that does reach your attic from your interior, needs to be able to escape quickly. If the warm air cannot escape your attic quickly enough, especially if you have heat loss due to poor insulation, it will cause snow to melt, leading to ice dam buildup. 

If you are seeing any of these signs on your roof, it is time for an inspection by a professional! They will be able to tell you what needs to be done to properly insulate and ventilate your roof so that you won’t have any more ice dams.

Your Roof is NOT Waterproof

Many people believe that your roof should be water tight, it is designed to keep water out of your home right? This is actually a misunderstanding of the way residential roof systems work. Shingle roofs are actually water “shedding” not waterproof. The steep slope of the roof along with the layered design of the shingles allows water to run off the roof without penetrating your attic space.

Ice dams are one of the weaknesses to a residential shingle roof. Water is allowed to move UP the roof rather than down the roof, allowing it to get under your shingles, eventually seeping through your roof deck, causing untold damage.

Ice Dam Removal

In most cases it is best to call a professional to help if you notice ice dams building up on your roof. Under no circumstances should you ever use rock salt to melt ice dams. This can lead to further damage of your gutters in the form of corrosion, and will leave ugly stains on your roof surface due to the calcium chloride. 

Preventing Ice Dams

The best way to prevent ice dams and the costly damage they can cause is by having a roofing professional your roofing insulation and ventilation system. If you live in an area that is prone to ice dams, it is important to take action BEFORE they form! Roofing professionals have the experience and knowledge to help you keep your home safe and prevent ice dams.

You can spot ice dams by looking out for the amount of snow on your roof, and if there are any icicles hanging off of your gutters. You may be able to have a roofing contractor help you with ice dam removal using hot water/steam. 

If you notice damage to your home or roof caused by ice dams, contact a professional Roofing contractor in Louisville KY. We are the trusted Roofers at Deer Park Roofing!