Ice Dam Prevention: 5 Tips That Will Save You Hundreds of Dollars

ice dam prevention tips

Minnesotans are no strangers to the dangers of extreme winter weather. From slippery roads to frozen pipes, homeowners must be vigilant throughout the winter season to prevent expensive home damage. Ice dams are one of the most costly sources of winter home damage. These ice dam prevention tips can save you hundreds of dollars in roof repairs.

Ice dams form when poor insulation allows heat to seep through the roof and melt recent snowfall. The melted snow slides down the roof toward the gutter, where it collects and refreezes. When the gutter fills up with ice, future snow melt is blocked from running off the roof like it should. With nowhere else to go, it can seep back into the home, causing extensive roof and water damage.

Once formed, ice dams have to be removed by professionals. Crews in the Twin Cities area charge anywhere from $285-500 per hour for ice dam removal. It’s no small sum, and the hourly rate adds up quickly indeed if your home has extensive ice dam formation.

The best solution is prevention.

5 Tips For Ice Dam Prevention

1. Add insulation.

Inspecting your insulation is an important step in preparing your home for winter. Insulation is an essential defense against heat escape that will melt snow and cause ice dams to form. Not only does insulation help with ice dam prevention, but it helps save money on winter heating costs, too.

2. Roof repair.

Your fall home maintenance checklist should always include a roof inspection. Look for signs of damage, decay, disrepair, and any leaks that could be a source of heat escape. Pay particular attention to points of connection between the roof and the interior of the house, such as chimneys, windows, and vent pipes. Make any necessary repairs before the first frost.

3. Install plastic roof snow guards.

Plastic roof snow guards are installed in staggered rows up and down the slope of your roof in order to break snowfall up into smaller sections. This minimizes snow retention and encourages efficient melt off, which will help with ice dam prevention.

Learn more about plastic roof snow guards.

4. Replace lightbulbs with LEDs.

Incandescent lightbulbs release more heat, which can cause snow melt if you have recessed lighting in ceilings that reach the roof. Replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs in all recessed light sockets. Replacing lightbulbs with LEDs is a good idea in any case, because they last up to 10 times as long and use 75% less energy.

5. Batten the hatch.

If you have an unfinished attic accessible via an attic hatch, make sure it is properly sealed and insulated. Unsealed attic hatches are a prime channel for heat to escape from your home (where it belongs) into your attic (where it can cause ice dam formation).

If you do discover an ice dam forming on your roof, call an ice dam removal crew as soon as possible. Failing to remove an ice dam can cause a second ice dam to form in the middle of the roof. Known as a “double dam,” this second ice dam will certainly double your problems!