Your Guide to Ice Dam Prevention

Calgary winters are sunny yet unpredictable. Along with snow,  winter will likely include a week-long (or longer) cold snap and many chinooks. These weather problems can cause headaches for homeowners if they experience water spots on the ceiling caused by attic rain or ice damming.  

What is it? What causes it? And how do you prevent it from happening? Let our guide answer these important questions. 

The Essential of Ice Damming 

What is Ice Damming? 

Ice damming is caused by on-and-off periods of melting and freezing. Firstly, the snow becomes a layer on top of your roof, causing the attic and/or roof deck to start to melt the first layer of snow. The melted snow rolls down the roof to the edge and soffits, which is cooler, causing it to freeze again. This results in a thick accumulation of ice along the bottom edge of the roof, causing blockages in your gutters while building up an excessive amount of water on the roof. 

Ice damming is a vicious cycle, occurring over and over again until you eliminate it completely, or prevent it from happening in the first place. 

What are the Causes of Ice Damming? 

There are several key factors that can cause ice damming to occur on your roof. Understanding your causes can help you make repairs or adjustments in the future to prevent them from happening again: 

  • Insufficient or defective attic insulation
  • Poor attic ventilation
  • Household air leakage
  • Excessive loads of snow 
  • Low pitch roof 

For more information on ice damming, their causes and potential problems, take a read of our article here


How to Prevent Ice Damming 

Manage Roof & Attic Temperature 

The melting and freezing of snow on your roof stems from an unbalanced temperature in your roof or attic. Your roof or attic should relatively match the weather outside: cold in winter, hot in summer. To ensure this happens, do the following:

  • Detect and seal up any leaks into your attic or roof
  • Improve your attic insulation with blown-in cellulose and fiberglass
  • Install roof or soffit vents that draws in cold outdoor air and flushes out warmer attic air

Rake off the Snow 

It might be tiresome and time-consuming, but removing heavy loads of snow from your roof is a simple yet effective way of preventing ice damming. However, we don’t recommend climbing on top of the roof yourself, as it can be dangerous and you can slip. It’s best to hire a professional to do it for you. 

Apply Special Ice Damming Product 

There are special adhesive ice-and-water barriers or water-tight membranes that can be applied to the edge of your roof, which blocks any ice damming from occurring. It’s a type of self-sealing underlayment that waterproofs and protects the roof. This might be an expensive option as you’ll have to reroof the lower section of your roof. But it should be effective in the long term. 

Install Heat Cables or Tape 

The last resort is to install heat cables or apply heat tape to the edge of your roof. Heat cables will ensure that snow and water do not freeze in the edges, although you’ll have to push away all the melted water. Heat tape for the bottom edge of the roof may also offer additional protection.

Reach out to Roofing Professionals
If you have exhausted all options, and you still suffer from consistent roofing problems, your next step might be to call a professional roofing contractor to inspect your roof and attic and determine the root cause of your ice damming.

Hubbard Roofing & Exteriors is your trusted Calgary roofing company. Since 1985, we have been providing customers with top-quality roofing in Calgary, specializing in roof replacement, siding repair, and roof repairs. As a family operated and owned business, we have established ourselves as a trusted source of high-quality work. When you choose Hubbard Roofing & Exteriors, you are not just a customer; you are part of the family. For a free quote on your roofing in Calgary, call us at 403-995-0677.

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