How to Prevent Ice Damming and Snow Buildup on Your Roof

Ice damming is a common problem for homeowners, especially in cold climatic countries like Canada. Luckily, there’re some steps you can take to prevent ice dams from forming and avoid costly roofing repairs. This article will discuss some practical strategies on how to prevent ice damming, how to remove the existing ice dams and some of the best solutions for dealing with snow buildup on roofs.

What is Ice Damming, and Why is it a Problem?

During winter, it is crucial to be mindful of the potential issue of ice dams and icicles forming on your roof. And to deal with these ice dams, it is essential to comprehend the process by which they originate.

When snow accumulates on your roof, it begins to melt due to heat loss from your home’s interior. This melting snow flows down towards the edge of the roof and refreezes as it reaches a colder surface. It creates a buildup of ice, which can grow and trap more water behind it, ultimately causing leaks in your roof and potential water damage to your home’s interior.

Now how to prevent ice damming? There are several roof ice dam solutions that can help prevent and remove ice dams, ultimately protecting your home from water damage.

How to Prevent Ice Damming on Roofs

Ice damming can become a real problem. Here are some ways how to prevent ice damming in the first place:

Keep your Roof and Gutters Clean

These gutters are actually the backbone of your roof drainage system. But due to leave fall or dust accumulation, these get clogged, stopping the natural flow of water from the roof. Regularly removing leaves, branches, and debris from your roof and gutters can prevent ice dams from forming. Clogged drains can trap water, leading to ice damming. Additionally, keep them free from snow so water can seamlessly drain out and your roof can stay safe during winter months.

prevent ice damming in gutters

Insulate your Attic

We know all too well the struggles of dealing with ice dams and icicles during the winter months. But did you know that about 15-20% of heat loss occurs through the roof or, more precisely, ceiling into the attic in the average home? And most of that loss is caused by air leaks resulting from gaps in drywall, chimneys, unblocked walls, cracks around light fixtures, and other ceiling penetrations.

A well-insulated attic can thus prevent heat from escaping through the roof and affecting the freeze/thaw cycle. That can help prevent ice dams from forming. Always contact a reliable roofing contractor in metro Vancouver to help you get over it.

ice dam solutions

Seal Air Leaks 

Cracks and gaps in your roof and attic can allow warm air to escape, which can melt snow and cause ice damming. Seal any air leaks with caulk or foam to prevent heat loss. Give heat a proper way out to escape through the air vents.

Ventilate your Attic

Maintaining a cool and well-ventilated attic is an effective strategy for preventing ice dams. Proper ventilation assists in regulating the temperature in your attic and preventing ice dam formation. So make sure your attic has enough vents to allow air to circulate. It’s also critical to maintaining good airflow under soffits and eaves. An experienced local roofing contractor can adequately do it for you while maintaining the required R-value.

How to Remove Ice Dams from Your Roof

If you already have ice dams on your roof, fret not; there are a few methods through which you can easily get rid of them;

Use a Roof Rake 

A roof rake is a tool specifically designed to remove most of the snow from your roof before it has a chance to melt and refreeze. Removing snow without letting it accumulate can help prevent ice damming in the first place. It’s a much safer way than using a ladder.

ice dam solutions roof rake

Use Calcium Chloride 

Calcium chloride can be sprinkled on the roof and will begin to melt ice and snow on contact. It’s important to note that you should not use rock salt, as it can damage your roof.

Hire a Professional 

If you’re dealing with an existing ice dam, it’s essential to proceed with caution when attempting to remove it. Trying to remove ice dams yourself can be dangerous, as you may slip or fall off your roof. It’s always best to hire professional roofing services. They have the equipment and experience to safely remove ice dams without damaging your roof.

Roof Ice Dam Solutions

If you’re looking for a long-term way how to prevent ice damming, consider installing some of these solutions:

Heat Cables 

Heat cables can be installed along the eaves of your roof to melt snow and prevent ice damming. By providing consistent heat in areas where ice dams often form, heat cables can help ensure proper drainage and to avoid water from backing up and causing damage to your roof.

Roof Ventilation

Another way how to prevent ice damming is proper roof ventilation. It can help regulate the temperature in your attic and prevent ice dams from forming. It can be achieved by adding ridge and soffit vents or installing a powered attic ventilator.


Lastly, adding insulation to your attic can help prevent heat loss and ice damming. A properly insulated attic can maintain a consistent temperature and prevent uneven snow from melting on your roof, reducing the likelihood of ice dam formation.

How to Prevent Ice Dams in Gutters

To prevent ice dams in your gutters, ensure they are clean and debris-free. You can also install gutter guards to prevent leaves and debris from clogging your drains. Properly insulating and ventilating your attic can also help prevent ice dams from forming in your gutters.


In general, ice damming is a serious issue that can cause significant damage to your roof. However, you can protect your home from ice damming by taking preventative measures like keeping your roof and gutters clean, insulating and ventilating your attic, and considering long-term solutions like heat cables or roof ventilation.