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In those regions of the country that are subject to significant amounts of snowfall and extended periods of freezing temperatures, many homes are damaged by a phenomenon known as ice damming. An ice dam is a ridge of ice that prevents snowmelt from draining off the roof. Ice dams occur when heat from a home’s interior rises to the roof deck and melts the snow above it. That melting snow then flows down to the lower portion of the roof, which is colder, and refreezes. This forms a dam that causes any additional snowmelt to back up behind the ice dam.

If left unchecked, this dammed water can then leak under the shingles and into the house, causing damage to ceilings, walls, floors, insulation and more – just when conditions outside are the worst for repairs. In most areas, ice dams occur from late December through late February.

Where Ice Dams Form

There are certain areas of the roof that are more prone to ice damming than others. Escaping heat is the root cause of ice dams, so you won’t find them over unheated areas such as garages and porches.

  • Eaves. At least 80% of ice dams form along the eaves of a roof due to the cycle discussed above. On roofs with a low pitch, even an ice dam of one to two inches can cause significant leaks and interior damage.
  • Valleys. Valleys are also subject to ice dam formation, including the valley area of dormers.
  • Skylights. Ice dams can occur both above and below skylights. Ice dams above skylights can be difficult to see from the ground.
  • Near openings. Openings such as vents and pipes (where heat escapes from below) are subject to ice dams.
  • Interior rooms. Interior rooms with vaulted ceilings that allow heat to concentrate near the ceiling can suffer from large ice dams. Bathrooms are often the worst.

How to Stop Ice Damming

A simple solution to counter the formation of ice dams is to install Helmet Heat® on your Gutter Helmet® gutter protection system. Helmet Heat gutter heating systems automatically warm up when the weather outside turns cold, so ice dams never have a chance to form along eaves and in gutters. When installed by a professional, Helmet Heat can prevent severe damage to your home caused by ice dams. Learn more about this innovative gutter heating system as well as the best gutter guard by giving us a call at (800) 824-3772.