Feb 15, 2024

Ice Dam vs Icicles on Your Roof

What Is An Ice Dam On A Roof?

An ice dam is a layer of ice that most often manifests itself near a roof’s edge.  Their presence is serious because ice dams do not allow melting snow to leave a roof. Over time, an ice dam can cause water to back up on the underside of your shingles, eventually leaking into the interior of your home.  Many homeowners wrongfully assume that icicles always mean ice dams.  This is only sometimes the case.  Here’s how to determine the difference between icicles and ice dams.

Do Icicles Always Mean Ice Dams?

Like ice dams, icicles need cold temperatures, snow, and warmth to cause the snow to melt.  Once the melted water comes in contact with the eave of the roof, the water again freezes.  Icicles hanging from your roof can signal an ice dam. However, ice dams can be present without the existence of icicles.  Icicles that exist only on home’s gutters without water trapped behind it are a normal winter occurrence, not a warning sign that an ice dam has formed. While icicles can prove problematic in high traffic areas, such as walkways, they often do not pose a significant threat to the exterior or your gutters or the layers of your roof.ice dam

Ice Dams On Your Roof

The place an ice dam forms on your roof is dependent on its style and slope.  Most often, they commence growth on the roof edge and begin to back up from there.  Two of the most telltale signs that your home has an active ice dam are if moisture is present in your attic or if there are damp areas on your home’s ceilings.  If either of these occurrences are happening, it means that ice damming has compromised the membrane of your home’s roof.  However, there are less obvious signs of ice dams that homeowners often miss, allowing for substantial damage to occur. If there is an abundance of snow on the ground and on a porch roof, but minimal snow on the home’s main roof, it’s a signal that heat is escaping your attic because of subpar home insulation and ventilation.

ice dam

A Temporary Solution For Ice Damming

Attempting to remove an ice dam through chipping away at the ice will only damage your shingles and likely void your roof’s warranty. Using roof salt pucks will also have negative impacts on your home.  The best way to remove an ice dam is through low pressure steaming.  This technique utilizes tap water and brings it to 300 degrees.  A technician then uses the steamer to heat up the ice so that it is no longer affixed to the roof.  However, failing to address the core issue will only result in a roof needing to be frequently steamed to remove ever-present ice dams.

A Permanent Solution For Ice Dam Prevention

The underlying cause of an ice dam is inconsistent roof temperatures.  Diagnosing the core issue should be done by a reputable contractor that is able to perform diagnostic testing such as a heat map analysis, blower door testing, and FLIR imaging.  These tools allow them to create a custom plan that considers your home’s need for additional insulation, ventilation, and attic air sealing.  All of these solutions can help with ice dam prevention.

Here’s What You Need to Know About Blower Door Testing: 

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Duane M.
River Falls, WI
February 7, 2024

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Lake Elmo, MN
January 9, 2024

"I have used Lindus Construction for many home improvements over the years—LeafGuard® Gutters, SeasonGuard windows, doors, a new deck, and garage insulation. They have always been very professional, treating both me and my home with great respect. As a single female homeowner, I never, ever felt like they were taking advantage of me! Everyone, from the scheduler to the salesperson, to the installers, and even their own inspector, Josh. Lindus is the best!"

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Prior Lake, MN
December 22, 2023

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Somerset, WI
October 12, 2023

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Ramsey, MN
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Solon Springs, WI
August 7, 2023
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