Ice Dam Prevention for Metal and Asphalt Roofs

Icicles on roof gutter

Here in Minnesota, snow and ice can quickly damage your home, leading to costly repairs and frustrating interruptions. That’s especially true if you ignore frozen precipitation, and it develops into an ice dam.  

Here’s what you need to know about roof ice dam prevention and why you must prioritize it this season. 

What is an ice dam?

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms near the roof’s edge, prevents water drainage, and causes more ice to freeze and build up on the rooftop.

What causes ice dams?

Weather changes can cause ice dams, especially in cold climates, as winter turns to spring. The combination of temperature fluctuations and precipitation can cause uneven drainage of melting snow and rain runoff on the rooftops.

Insufficient insulation can also lead to ice dams forming over colder, more poorly insulated patches on your roof. The warmer, better-insulated parts of your roof will allow snow and ice to melt. When the temperature drops, that water will freeze again. From there, the problem can quickly snowball. 

Does an ice dam mean damage?

Ice dams prevent melting snow from running off into the drainpipes. As water pools up behind a drainpipe, it can waterlog the shingles and leak into the attic, sometimes even causing mildew and mold. If ice dams form on the roof’s edge, it can damage and break your drain pipes. They can even destroy gutters and leak water into your home. That’s why you want to get them taken care of immediately. 

Roof Ice Dam Prevention 

Here are a few methods to prevent ice dams from outside and inside your home. 

Ladder against a snowy roof before tackling ice dam prevention

From Outside: 

Invest in heat cables
Attach heated cables with clips along the edge of your roof and shape them in a zigzag pattern. This setup can prevent ice from forming and building into ice dams. Make sure to set it up before bad weather hits!

Use a roof rake
When used correctly, a long-handled rake with wheels will gently break up snow and ice on your roof without ruining the shingles. Remember, this is a preventative measure only. If an ice dam has formed, removing snow won’t improve it.

From inside

Increasing ventilation
Installing a ridge vent paired with continuous soffit vents can circulate cold air under the roof. Be sure the vents are uniform in size and at even distances from one another. We generally recommend one square foot opening for every 300 square feet of attic floor. 

Keep warm air in
Keeping even temperature regulation under your roof helps prevent ice and snow buildup. Look at your attic hatch. If it’s not already, seal off your attic hatch or whole house ceiling fan with weather-stripped caps made from foil-faced foam board held together with aluminum tape. An uncapped attic hatch or house ceiling fan can cause considerable warm air leakage.

Adding insulation
Attic insulation creates an even temperature inside and on top of your roof by keeping heat in the home. Insulation can seal off every possible air leak that might warm or cool the underside of the roof. With insulation, snow and ice will stay cold on your rooftop, and melting runoff water will drain into the drainpipes.

Ice dam on a roof.
How to remove an ice dam

If you suspect ice dams on your roof, call a professional roofing company like CoMitted 365. We know how to melt an ice dam without causing more harm to your property. Then, we can assess the situation and tell you what repairs are needed. 

What ice melt is safe for metal roofs?

There are two safe ice melts for metal roofs: calcium chloride and magnesium. Both can be effective for metal roof ice dams, provided you follow the instructions correctly. We highly recommend leaving ice dam removal to the professionals. 

Are ice dams a problem with metal roofs?

Yes, metal roof ice dams, especially if not addressed promptly. However, their structure makes them far less likely to result in a leak. That’s excellent news and one reason (among many) that we recommend metal roofs in Minnesota. 

How do you melt an ice dam on a metal roof?

You can try an ice dam steamer to melt metal roof ice dams. However, use caution since snow and ice can fall off a roof unexpectedly! 

Ice dam prevention products

If you want to stay ahead of the problem, here are a few ice dam prevention products we recommend to our clients: 

  • Heat tape or cables 
  • Roof rake 
  • Plastic shovel 
  • Snow blowers

Always practice extreme caution when going up on your roof, especially in cold weather. 

Annual roof inspections can also be a great way to solve problems preemptively instead of dealing with ice dam removal. 

Fallen victim to ice dams? 

Ice dams can cause significant damage to your roof—in some cases—the inside of your home. And even the best prevention methods can fall apart at the hands of Mother Nature sometimes.

If your roof has been affected by ice dams or other winter weather damage, call CoMitted 365 to learn more about our roof repair services in St. Cloud and the surrounding suburbs. 

Don’t endure a winter weather emergency. Talk to our team today!

Icicles on roof gutter

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