Ice Dams

Ice Dams

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms on the edge of your roof that prevents snow (water) from draining off of the roof like it should. The water can eventually back up and leak into your home if not properly dealt with. For ice dams to form, there must first be snow or water on the roof and parts of that roof must be warmer than 32 degrees like the outside air. An ice dam is thereby formed when the snow melts at the warmer temperature on the roof, moves down the roof, and then freezes where it is colder than 32 degrees.

What causes different roof surface temperatures is three things: conduction, convection, and radiation. The way heat travels through solid floors, walls, and ceilings are conduction. The hot air that rises within a home is convection. The heat that is transferred to you is done so my electromagnetic waves (or radiation). Essentially, your roof gets spots of warmth via your attic and pending how much insulation you have, the less of a problem this may be.

The key to preventing ice dams is by keeping your attic and roof below 32 degrees in the winter. Some ways to do so include:

-Closing up all attic bypasses: or unblocked walls, cracks in your drywall or around light fixtures, plumbing pipes, chimneys and other penetrations.

-checking your insulation levels: i.e. Northern Indiana’s R-Levels should be between 49 and 60. Southern Indiana’s R-Levels should be between 38 and 60.

-add roof and soffit vents: Proper attic ventilation draws in colder air and gets rid of warmer air.


If you follow Owen’s Corning’s roofing system: seal, defend, and breathe, you shouldn’t have an ice dam problem. However, if you do, here are some ways to help:

-scrape the ice and snow off of your roof… CAREFULLY

-clear out your gutters and downspouts

-use a calcium chloride ice melter(DO NOT USE ROCK SALT! It will damage paints and metals)

-CALL someone to tarp any and all leaks (like Bone Dry!)

OR just call us before all of these steps and have us do it for you!

If you have any questions about your roof this winter call us (317)873-6005!