Ice Dams: Their Causes and Their Risks

During a Manitoba winter, there are a lot of potential threats to your home. Ice damming is one threat that we see a lot in Winnipeg. It’s a problem that can cause lots of damage to your house and require expensive repairs. Luckily, however, it’s preventable. Let us at Warm Home Insulation take you through the causes, risks, and solutions to ice damming in Winnipeg.

During a Manitoba winter, there are a lot of potential threats to your home. Ice damming is one threat that we see a lot in Winnipeg. It’s a problem that can cause lots of damage to your house and require expensive repairs. Luckily, however, it’s preventable. Let us at Warm Home Insulation take you through the causes, risks, and solutions to ice damming in Winnipeg.


What is an Ice Dam?

Ice damming is what we call that accumulation of ice and snow that appears at the edge of our Winnipeg roofs and in the valleys every winter. Whereas snow and ice seem to be distributed more or less evenly over a roof (depending on wind conditions) there sometimes seems to be a larger portion near the eavestrough. This formation develops from either heat loss though the attic or from the energy from the sun.


Heat Loss Through the Attic

When you turn your heating on for the winter, your whole house gets warmer than the outside. If the insulation on your attic isn’t great, some of that heat will escape from the top of your home and melt the underside of the snow and ice that’s accumulated on your roof. This water will either leak into your home if you have roof problems or move toward your eavestrough. As the water moves away from the heat and is once again exposed to cold air, it freezes at the edge of your roof and becomes an ice dam.


Energy from the Sun

A well insulated and ventilated attic can also be susceptible to ice dams. These types of ice dams can occur in the spring months especially when we experience heavy accumulations of snow on our roof. Even though the day time temperatures can still be below freezing during the day, the energy from the sunshine is warm enough to start the melting process on your roof. Once the sun goes down for the night, the melting process stops and the snow on the roof returns to a frozen state. This freeze/thaw cycle can continue for days and even weeks resulting in ice damming. 


Ice dams are potentially damaging to your home for several reasons. They could not only be in indicator that there are problems with your attic’s insulation and ventilation but the weight of the ice can damage your roof and your eavestroughs. The water can leak into your living space and damage ceilings. The icicles that form as a result of the ice dam can also fall as it melts, harming whatever or whoever is below it.


What Can I Do to Prevent Ice Dams Forming on My Home?

Luckily, there are several ways to handle ice damming, including:

  • Call a Winnipeg insulation expert to assess and repair your attic insulation and ventilation. This is the best option, as it will prevent the dam from forming in the first place.
  • Routinely clear the snow off the bottom 4 -6 feet of the roof and keep your valleys clear of snow. Ensure that the snow is removed if there is a large accumulation throughout the winter month or if the weather is forecasted to spike in temperature. If you prevent the snow from developing into ice and getting out of control, you’ll avoid the worst of any damage.

If you want to prevent ice damming before it starts, contact our experts at Warm Home Insulation in Winnipeg. We can give you a free estimate of how easy and cost-effective it will be to improve your home’s insulation and prevent ice damming from damaging your home.



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