Ice dams are a regular issue in severe climates with a lot of snow. Once they’ve developed, there are a few ways to eliminate them, but their occurrence is never good. 

Ice dams may harm your home and you. They can cause structural issues, stains on the walls and ceilings, mold, damaged gutters, and overall damage to the property. They can make surviving an ice storm difficult and even fatal. Thus, preventing ice dams before forming is your best action plan. 

This way, you can prevent expensive repairs from piling up and even extend the lifespan of your roof. Also, by addressing every issue that causes ice dams, you’ll improve your home’s insulation and security in general.

Before we discuss how you can do that, let’s understand what ice dams are.

What Is an Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a significant buildup of melting snow that has re-frozen close to the edge of your roof. The longer you leave a dam in place, the bigger it will get and the more likely it is that it will cause damage to your house.

They are ubiquitous during times when there is a lot of snowfall. Due to their size and sturdiness, which prevents water from passing through them, they function like real dams.

What Causes Ice Dams?

Ice dams develop whenever the snow on your roof experiences several warming and cooling cycles. Snow accumulated during the winter might begin to melt on a warm day. The melting ice will then refreeze at night when the temperature drops. An ice dam can develop when this keeps happening for at least a few days in succession.

It’s not always the weather conditions that facilitate the formation of ice dams. Most times, a heating problem within your home is the issue. These can include inadequate attic insulation, bathroom or kitchen exhaust, or intense heat from the vent.  

Common Ice Dam Damages

The water is the primary cause of damage from an ice dam. It can create a variety of issues when it enters your house, especially if it stays there for a long time. Some of these issues are discussed below. 

Major Structural Issues

The structural issues that ice dams cause are their most visible effect. Gutter collapses, and the collapse of fascia boards and soffit panels can be caused by ice buildup. However, due to recurrent ice melts that cause part of the ice to melt and drain away, the structure can usually withstand this weight. Nevertheless, this weight may strain the building over time and cause it to deteriorate progressively.

Although the snowbank piled up above the house may appear concerning, most of the damage is caused by the water that pools below. Small ice dam leaks gradually weaken wood, and ultimately nails and screws lose their hold, causing objects to topple under the next ice buildup.

Stained Ceilings and Walls

Since a stain may be removed with just a little primer and paint, aesthetic damages might not be as serious as structural ones. But the unattractive stains on the walls and ceilings are your tip-off to the underlying problem. 

If the source of the issue is not remedied, the stains will return. Don’t disregard the hints that those brown water stains are sending you since those constant water leaks might eventually bring things crashing down.

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew may grow easily in a damp, warm atmosphere. Because mold spores become hidden after things dry up, a mold problem may appear to arise overnight. Every time an ice dam melts, moisture returns, and the spores multiply. Once mold starts to develop, it won’t stop until a large colony forms and eventually causes the wood to decay.

These tiny intruders pose a health risk to the people and are an issue for the house since they cause decay. They can cause allergic reactions and lung problems. Therefore, don’t just focus on the moldy areas; make sure to remove the ice dam water.

Damaged Gutters

As we previously mentioned, an important stressor for structures is the enormous weight of the ice dam. Old gutters might also not be able to withstand all that ice, causing them to misalign, droop, or even entirely fall off. 

Furthermore, a damaged gutter system makes a house even more hazardous since it can no longer remove water from the property, which leads to more costly repairs for the homeowner when water ends up in places where it shouldn’t.

Damaged Landscapes and Property

Ice dams can grow heavy enough to inflict significant damage if they form in a certain location. Your property can be ruined by the falling ice on your lawn, porch, air conditioner, or heating system. The trees, bushes, and other plants you previously planted around the house might take the fall’s full force before breaking and dying. 

Any items or machinery under the home’s roof might be in danger and end up being broken. A few hundred pounds of ice falling can be avoided with only a bit of precaution.

Ways to Prevent Ice Dams

Ideally, the risk of ice dams was considered when your home was being constructed. However, this isn’t always the situation. Take all necessary precautions to ensure that your home is secure before the upcoming winter if you have ever experienced ice dams or are worried that they could build up.

Thorough Cleaning

When debris builds up, such as leaves or sticks, make sure to remove it timely. Be very diligent, especially before the local snowfall intensifies. This will prevent melted snow from building up on your roof by allowing it to run through your gutters. 

Remove Snow

Once the snow begins to fall, you can still take some steps. You can buy tools like roof rakes. These let you clear snow from the roof while standing on the ground. But keep in mind that these tools can potentially damage your roofing.

Remove Icicles

Keep icicles from building up, so they don’t harm your gutters and contribute to snowmelt and dams.

Insulation and Structural Changes

To avoid ice dams, you may also want to make sure that your roof and attic have the optimum insulation and structural design. Although costly, it’s better to make these changes if your home consistently suffers from ice dams.


Water from the ice dams can cause a lot of damage to your property and potentially pose hazardous risks to the people in the house. Because prevention is better than running through multiple, costly cures, it’s important to ensure you don’t let ice dams develop in the first place.