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Ice Dam Myths

December 26, 2017
Amanda Curry
Read Time
3 minutes

Do you know the difference between an icicle and an ice dam? You may not realize it, but an ice dam can cause serious and costly damage. At LeafFilter, we are committed to helping homeowners’ keep their homes safe and protected from all of the different elements. Check out some of these common ice myths, so you can determine facts from fiction.

Ice Dam Causes & Issues

Ice dams will form as snow begins to melt due to heat loss within your home, as well as solar heat. Melted snow will trickle down to the surface of the roof where it settles along colder valleys. When temperatures dip below freezing again, this melting snow will refreeze and form dams of ice. If left neglected, an ice dam can cause water damage issues, warped hardwood floors, mold, mildew, and many other different kinds of interior home damage.

Myth #1: Gutters have something to do with ice dams.

If you have an ice damming problem, you probably think the sneaky culprit is your gutters. Maybe you even think that if you remove your gutters, you’ll get rid of your ice damming problem!
In actuality, ice dams will occur even if you do not have a problem with your gutters. If your home is prone to ice dams, you will get them regardless of whether or not you even have gutters! Ice dams will continue to form on the cold edge of the roof.
If you have gutters, they can fill with ice and be the foundation for the ice dam. Bottom line, if you remove gutters, you’ll end up with worse problems and you’ll lose the ability to keep water away from your foundation.

Myth #2: Adding extra layers of insulation will prevent ice dams.

It’s a common misconception that excessive amounts of insulation will prevent ice dams, when in fact, adding insulation can actually retain moisture. As a result, the insulation will become more compact and lose much of its efficiency as an insulator.
It’s actually more important for the insulation to be properly installed than to keep adding extra layers of insulation. Improperly insulated homes are one of the main reasons ice dams form. The loss of heat from within your attic or crawl space will cause water to melt from the top of your home and as it trickles down to the edge of the roof, ice dams will begin to form. If you don’t address air leakage in your attic, you’ll continue to have ice dams for the lifetime of your home.

ice dam myths

Myth #3: Shoveling snow off the edge of the roof prevents ice dams.

You might think that if you remove the snow from your roof, ice dams won’t be able to form. In reality, ice dams form wherever water freezes. You may not even have a lot of snow on your roof and an ice dam can still form. Removing some snow off your roof won’t do much.

Myth #4: Metal edging will prevent ice dams.

Some homeowners think that installing a metal rim around the base of your roof will keep ice dams from forming. In actuality, an ice dam can break off and then a new dam will form at or above the wall line. This can cause worse leaks and damage to your shingles due to the metal edging. We recommend skipping this roof remedy as it can do more harm than good.

Myth #5: Zig Zag Heat Tape Prevents Ice Dams

Zig zag heat tape will create tiny pathways for the water to pass through. In areas that get a lot of snow, heat tape won’t do much. They can also be a fire hazard and tend to collect debris and pine needles, which will have to be cleaned on the regular.

Preventing Ice Dams

To prevent ice dams, follow these steps and check out our handy ice-dam 101 infographic for more information.
• Make sure your attic is properly ventilated
• Keep your gutters clear and clog-free
• Fix cracks in chimney flashing
• Ensure all exhaust goes to the outside — not in the attic.

LeafFilter Gutter Protection can help prevent ice dams by keeping your gutters clear and clog-free and diverting water safely away from your home. Learn how LeafFilter can protect your home 365 days a year.