Prevent ice dams from forming on your roof this winter

Catching snowflakes on your tongue, hot chocolate by the fireplace, ugly holiday sweaters – who doesn’t love a Canadian winter? Well, your roof probably doesn’t, thanks to potential hazards like roof collapse and ice damming.

So, what’s ice damming and what causes it?

An ice dam is a build-up of ice that forms along the eaves of your roof. It happens when heat that collects in your attic, warming the roof and causing snow to melt. The melted snow trickles down to the cold eaves and freezes, forming a dam that prevents proper drainage. Ice dams are one of the most common causes of energy loss and roof damage, and can lead to leaks into walls, ceilings or your attic. The excess water can also cause rot, weakening your roof and potentially causing it to collapse.

  • 1. Inadequate insulation causes heat loss through roof
  • 2. Heat from the roof melts snow
  • 3. Pooling water
  • 4. Ice dam forms on cooler eaves
  • 5. Water damage
How can I prevent ice damming?

The key is to make sure your roof doesn’t get warmer than 0° Celsius in the winter. Here are a few things you can do to keep your roof cool and the ice dams at bay:

  • Enlist the help of a roofing contractor to see if your attic is properly insulated and ventilated. You can pinpoint problem spots by seeing which areas of your roof melt first then find out what’s under that spot so you add insulation or improve the ventilation.
  • Make sure there isn’t too much snow accumulating on your roof. You can use a special roof rake to remove the snow or you can hire a professional to have the snow removed safely (this is probably your best bet). Read more about this in our post on preventing roof collapse in the winter.
  • Seal any air leaks coming from your attic – again, a roofing contractor can help you locate the leaks and fix them for you.
Uh oh - How do I get rid of an ice dam?

The best and safest way to remove an ice dam is to get a roofing professional to take care of it – they’ll know how to clear the ice dam without damaging your shingles or gutters. And, bonus, there’s no danger of you falling and getting hurt.


Old or new, your home needs insurance. Check out our coverage and get a quote!