Ice Dam Guide

What is an Ice Dam?

  • Ice dams are ridges of ice that form at the edge of a roof and prevent melting snow from draining off your roof.
  • Water that backs up behind the dam can leak into your home and cause damage.
  • Walls, insulation and ceilings are at the greatest risk for damage from an ice dam.

How to Prevent Ice Dams?

  • Proper insulation: Attic insulation should have an R value of 30.* Insulate around areas that may allow for heat to escape easily –
    lights, bathroom fans, sky lights, etc.
  • Proper Ventilation: Allow heat to escape in other ways than the roof. Investigate gable vents, ridge vents and soffit venting.
  • Installation of Roof Leak Barrier: A rubberized film that gets installed under roof shingles to block water from leaking into vulnerable areas.
  • Keep all drains, downspouts and scuppers free of debris.
  • Maintain trees and plants that grow near your roof to prevent accumulation that may clog or slow roof drainage.
  • Get an energy audit done of your home to identify potential areas of concern.
  • * R value is how well the material used to insulate can function at keeping the heat where it needs to be.  The higher the value the
    better the insulating power.

What Other Factors Contribute to Ice Damming?

  • Complex roof designs
  • Skylights
  • Dormers
  • Vaulted Ceilings
  • Periods of unoccupancy greater than 30 days

What to do if you have an Ice Dam?

  • Remove the first three to four feet of snow from the roofline with a roof rake or soft bristled broom.
  • Warning: Be extremely careful while removing snow from your roof.
  • Make sure the ladder is secure.
  • Beware of falling snow and ice as you clear the roof.
  • Consult with a roofing professional when dealing with snow removal.
  • If the home is too tall to reach the roof then hire a roofing professional to clear the snow.
  • Contact your Insurance agent as soon as possible.


Be sure to contact licensed professionals to assist with ice dam prevention techniques.

Click here to view more information on the MAPFRE website.