Preventing Ice dams from forming can save you thousands of dollars if you live in an area where the snow builds up like North Idaho. The melted snow will refreeze at the eaves of your roof, causing water to sit and back up under your shingles, potentially getting into your home. Prevention is the best remedy!
How To Prevent Ice Dams From Forming By Removing Roof Snow
The first way to prevent ice dams is by proper maintenance during the winter season. Ice dams form when there is a lot of snow on your roof and the heat from your house melts the bottom layer of that snow and causes it to run down the roof. When it hits the eaves where there is less heat, the water will freeze and start building up, forming an ice dam.
One way to prevent this from happening is to get your roof snow removed whenever there's 1 foot or more. This can prevent the whole process from beginning and / or getting worse. There are other benefits to removing roof snow early and often too, check out this article to see what damage roof snow can cause.
How To Prevent Ice Dams From Forming With Proper Ventilation
It's very important that your home's attic is properly ventilated. If your roof does not have enough attic ventilation, both intake and exhaust, heat from your home will build up in your attic. Like I mentioned above, if you have snow on your roof the heat from your attic will warm up the shingles on your roof and melt the bottom layer of snow. Letting it run to the eaves and refreeze, creating an ice dam.
With proper ventilation, however, the heat in your attic will be vented out, keeping the surface of your roof much cooler. This will prevent the snow from melting as fast, slowing down the forming of these dams on the eaves.
The 2009 Building Code requires a roof to have 1 sq. ft. of attic venting for every 300 sq ft of attic floor space. It's best to have a 50/50 split between intake vents (usually in the soffits) and exhaust vents (either roof louvers, ridgevent, or other roof venting). While this is the minimum, studies have shown that doubling the ventilation in your roof to 1: 150 can lower the attic temperature 150% more than the minimum requirements.
We recommend getting as close to the 1: 150 venting ratio as possible to prevent ice dams from becoming a problem for you. It also has the added benefit of keeping your attic temperature lower in the summer, keeping your home cooler, and lowering your energy bill. Keeping soffit vents clear or insulation is vital to be sure your attic is being properly vented.