The first clue that you may have ice dams on your roof are the large icicles hanging down from your eaves. Although these icicles are often impressive in size and attractive in the sunlight, they are a byproduct of potentially damaging ice dams at the edge of your roof.

What Are Ice Dams?

Ice dams are most often seen after heavy snowfalls or after your roof has remained covered with snow for prolonged periods of time. They occur when heat in your attic melts snow toward the peak of the roof (since there’s more collected heat underneath the higher parts of the roof). This melted snow runs down your roof, meets the roof overhangs that have not been warmed as much, and refreezes. Over time, the ice can build up significantly, which forces additional melted snow to pool up behind the “dam.” Eventually, that water will find its way enter your attic and home, through leaks or eat spots in the roof.


Thankfully, homeowners have some options to reduce ice buildup on the roof, even in Northeat Ohio’s snowy winters.

  • Insulation – A good layer of insulation, at least 12 inches, will do a lot to prevent the loss of heat through your roof. For most effective results, you should also insulate and seal the attic floor to prevent heat energy and warm air from reaching the attic in the first place.
  • Ventilation – Even a well-insulated attic will benefit, in both warm and cold temperatures, from good airflow.
  • Caulking – Even the smallest hole in the attic floor can allow heated air to sneak in. Take care to seal all crevices and holes that wires and pipes pass through to prevent these leaks. Also, make sure you apply weatherstripping and insulation to the attic hatch.

As an added bonus, all of these steps will increase the energy efficiency of your heating and cooling systems and reduce your utility bills.

To find out more about ice dams and how to prevent them, or for professional help removing those that have already formed, contact us at Stack Heating & Cooling. Our family-owned company has almost 40 years of experience dealing with everything the harsh Cleveland area winters can bring.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Cleveland, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about ice dams and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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