How to Prevent Ice Dams

Ice Dam Prevention: How To Prevent Ice Dams In Iowa & Remove Them

December 20, 2021

During the harsh Iowa winters, heavy snow, ice and inefficient attics and roofs are a recipe for dangerous ice dams. The formation of ice dams can damage your roof, gutters and the interior of your home and attic, and cause injury to anyone walking below. Understanding what ice dams are and how to prevent them can ensure the safety of your family and home this winter.

What Is An Ice Dam On A Roof?

Ice dams are ridges of ice that form at the lower part of the roof near the eaves and gutters. They form when snow builds up on the roof & melts during the day, then refreezes when temperatures drop. The ice blocks snowmelt from draining off the roof & may eventually leak into your attic or walls.

What Causes Ice Dams On A Roof In Iowa?

When the snow on your roof comes in contact with warmer air from inside your home escaping through a poorly insulated attic, it will melt and drip down to the eaves of your roof where it freezes and continues building up into large formations called ice dams.

Ice dam diagram. 


Ice Dam Prevention For Iowans

Ice dams are largely preventable as long as you take the proper steps to mitigate the risks. It’s important to understand the early warning signs for ice dams, such as icicles or improper drainage during a large snowmelt period. Recognizing these warning signs can help you take action sooner to save you from significant damage to your roof, attic and the interior of your home.

How To Prevent Ice Dams

Getting rid of ice dams for good involves insulating common problem areas in your attic and roof to prevent future buildup of snow and ice. Effective ice dam prevention will help save energy costs and make your home easier to heat and cool year round:

  • Ventilate your attic - Your attic should be well ventilated so heat doesn’t accumulate in that space. Ridge vents used with continuous soffit vents are an effective ventilation strategy.
  • Seal all interior inflow attic leaks - The area between the attic and living spaces below should be insulated enough to stop heat from rising into the attic. Similarly, air leaks between the living spaces and attic should be well sealed. The same goes for the attic hatch or door.
  • Clean your gutters before winter - Clear leaves and debris from your gutters before winter begins to allow for proper drainage of melted water from snow.
  • Add attic insulation - Stop the transfer of heat through the roof by keeping your attic and ductwork well insulated. Quality attic insulation will prevent ice dams and help retain heat inside your home to keep energy costs low during the winter.
  • Rake your roof after snowfall - Prevent ice buildup by raking your roof immediately after a snowfall while the snow is still soft. This can be done with the use of a roof rake to safely clear snow without the use of a ladder.
  • Exhaust to the outside - Make sure there aren’t any exhaust vents that open into the attic. Ducts that connect kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents should lead outdoors through the roof or walls, but never through the soffit.

Ice Dam Removal For Iowans

Fixing ice dams depends on the severity of your situation. The first priority is to remove snow from your roof. Preemptively removing snow from your roof can help prevent ice dams from forming and causing an extreme case that may require additional assistance to remove. You can remove excess snow from your roof by purchasing a roof rake from your local hardware store.

How To Get Rid Of Ice Dams

The process to remove ice dams involves applying a melting agent of calcium chloride and then carefully breaking the ice into chunks with a mallet. Breaking an ice dam can be dangerous and extreme caution should be used, so we recommend calling a professional to remove them. The person breaking the ice dam should do so from the roof, as they can result in large chunks of ice crashing off the roof and potentially damaging windows, bushes or injuring anyone below.

Still Not Sure How To Prevent Ice Dams On Your Roof? Have Lozier Heating & Cooling Take A Look.

If you’re looking for more information on preventing ice dams on your roof, contact the experts at Lozier! Give us a call at (515) 267-1000, send a text to (515) 393-4262 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment with a technician to ensure your attic has proper insulation and ventilation before the winter snowfall.