Ice-Dam Proof Your Home


The 2016 blizzard has taught homeowners and builders a few new lessons in home building. With record snowfall, even in unlikely locales like Dallas and Atlanta, a new problem has emerged that has left homeowners fuming.

Its nothing novel though.

It’s called an Ice Dam.

An Ice Dam is formed when snow melts during the day and refreezes during the night.

But that’s obvious, isn’t it?

Yes. But what most homeowners underestimate is the potential of an Ice Dam to wreak havoc on the internal structure of the house. Water can accumulate behind ice banks slowly making its way into the house in several ways. In the initial stages, it can cause mold and drywall damage. If left unabated, it can cost you in the thousands down the road.

From a home builders perspective, this can result in expensive callbacks. From a homeowner’s perspective, it is something that can be avoided with a few simple changes in building supplies and practices.

Irrespective of whether it’s a new home or preparing an existing home, here are a few tips to keep your house protected from large amounts of snow and water.

How it can happen

When melting snow finds its way into the eavestrough or any other area of the roof that is uninsulated and is colder than the attic space, it causes snowmelt to build up over a period of time. This will seep under the shingles and subsequently into wall cavities.

This will trigger a horde of moisture related problems.

Mitigating the problem

If you are building your new home, then you can ask your building supplies company to quote you for raised heel roof trusses.

Raised heel roof trusses offer a uniform size and pitch which translates into less insulation and labour costs. But the advantages go beyond that.

It reduces the temperature difference between the living space and the attic space and minimizes heat transfer. With minimal to zero heat loss, it does not melt snow that has accumulated on the roof, thereby eliminating the problem of ice dams.

Another effective way to tackle the problem is to cover and seal any uninsulated cavities with drywall or rigid foam panels. This will contain the cold airflow and prevent it from entering the underside of the deck.

For existing homeowners

All’s not lost if you an existing homeowner. If you are having problems with Ice Dams, then your building supplies company can help you seal and insulate all penetrations. You can use weather stripping or caulk.

Start with the attic floor, which must be insulated to at least, R-38. You can contact the local building inspector or speak to your contractor to know what the right insulation is, in your area. The idea should be to keep your attic temperature as close to the outside temperature as possible.

Heating cables along the eaves is not really recommended unless you have tried the simpler methods outlined here and failed.

To know the costs of the building supplies required to Ice dam proof your new home, speak to your building contractor.

Brands We Work With