Preventing Ice Damming

Roof with icicles hanging from it.

As we approach the colder months and temperatures drop below freezing, preventing pesky New England ice damming is crucial. If you’re experiencing ice damming, it’s important to understand what it could potentially lead to:

  • Interior wall and ceiling damage
  • Impeded water flow in your gutters, pooling water, and more.

Here are some tips and tricks to lower your risk of damage.

What Causes Ice Damming?

The root causes of ice damming are heat loss and temperature change at the leading edges of your roofline, also known as overhangs. Warm air rising from inside the home will melt any snow accumulation on higher levels of the roofline, allowing water to flow to the overhangs. Typically, the space between the exterior wall and the gutter is open, allowing melted snow to re-freeze.

Over time, the freezing barrier builds, which may take several days, and damming can start to occur. This prevents water from flowing to the drainage system on the leading edges and pooling water behind the dam. Because roofing shingles are engineered to shed water from top to bottom, the backward flow of the pooling water traps it beneath the shingle, creating a leak, which can lead to wall and interior ceiling damage.

These ice and water barriers beneath shingles, which seal decking at the leading edges of the roofline, are a commercial and residential code requirement in the Northeast; however, taking immediate measures to remove snow accumulation following a storm will help prevent damage in two ways:

  1. Prevent accumulation from becoming a source of water flow by removing it entirely. Create a free-flowing area at the leading edge for additional upper roofline accumulation to safely melt through the gutter system.
  2. Additionally, overall heat efficiency changes can be made to the interior insulation and ventilation systems of the residence. Please note that the addition of insulation should be balanced carefully with a proper ventilation method.

Other preventative measures include:

  • Ongoing maintenance of the drainage system
  • Keeping gutter systems free of debris and leaves
  • Professional installation of heating cables and ice barriers around areas prone to accumulation buildup

Trust the Professionals

Attempting to remove existing ice dams yourself can be dangerous. Not only is working on an icy surface high above the ground risky, but serious damages can occur to roofing materials and gutters if you’re using axes, hammers, or by melting ice chemically with salt or other melting granules. If you’re unable to remove snow accumulation prior to freezing, contact the experts at City Roofing & Siding by calling (860) 621-5656 for professional removal or more information.