5 Best Ice Dam Prevention Products To Protect Your Roof

Are you interested in ice dam prevention products?

Have you noticed long icepicks hanging from the eaves of your roof? If you have, then prepare yourself for an ice dam build-up.

Better still, prevent it from ever happening.

Ice Dam Prevention Products

Rather than working on the long-term prevention of ice dam formation that can be achieved through substantial building work such as installing insulation, ventilation, or a metal roof, you can purchase certain ice dam prevention products to use if you suspect that there is a risk of ice dam formation.

These products can be used to deal with snow and ice as it builds up on your roof and to ensure that it does not create an ice dam.

Ice dam prevention products offer a shorter-term solution than the installation of insulation, ventilation, or metal roofing, but they can still be a good option for ice dam prevention.

They are a particularly good choice if you live in an area where you are at less frequent risk from ice dams since it may not be worthwhile to spend a significant amount of time and money on building work on the roof and attic of your home just to prevent the formation of ice dams.

They can also be significantly cheaper, so you may want to consider using these products even if you live in an area that experiences a lot of snow.

Thankfully, there are many ice dam prevention products you can use to stop the build-up, and that is what we will be discussing in this article.

Keep reading!

How Do Ice Dams Form

Before you think of the best tools for ice dam removal or prevention, you have to first ask yourself how the ice dam got there in the first place.

If you just moved to a cold region, and this is your first time dealing with ice dams, then knowledge of how they are formed will be your first weapon against them.

Ice dams develop when snow on the warmer parts of the roof melts and flows down towards the colder eaves. But since the eaves are chilly, the melted snow will refreeze by the edges of the roof.

And as more melted snow flows down and continues to freeze, the ice blockade will become thicker and form a dam. The more snow that melts and refreezes, the thicker the ice dams will become.

If you’ve never lived in a home with an ice dam problem, then you probably have no idea how chaotic they can become.

Ice dams weigh hundreds of pounds, and your roof did not bargain for the extra weight. They can break shingles and push water under them, which will result in soaked walls, floors, and ceilings inside your home.

Best Products To Use For Ice Dam Prevention

Now that you understand what ice dams are and how they are formed, let’s take a look at some of the major products you can use to prevent them from forming.

  1. Heat cables

Heat cables are one of the most popular ice dam prevention products in the market. Also called heat tape, it works by being plugged into an electrical outlet and producing heat.

The warmth being produced will stop the melted snow from refreezing on the eaves. Hence, the water that would’ve frozen to form the dam will flow to the ground.

Ice melting cables, once they have been installed, are one of the easiest ways of clearing snow from your roof since they simply need to be switched on to melt the snow.

They are, therefore, ideal if you are unable to cope with more physically demanding methods of removal.

Heat cables are usually installed in the sections of the roof where the dams typically form. And this is by the edges of the roof.

You can install heat tapes yourself, as all it takes is to hold them in place along the roof with clips then plug them into a power source. A professional can install it for you if you’re not the DIY type.

Ice melting cables and strips come in many different forms. Some of these will be more effective than others, but they can also vary a great deal in terms of their price.

The best kinds of heat tapes are the self-regulating models. They can automatically turn up the heat when the temperature gets lower, and reduce the warmth when the temperature increases.

This automatic regulation helps you to effectively prevent ice dams from forming.

Investing in high-quality ice melting cables can be a good idea if you want to be able to clear ice dams quickly and easily as soon as you see signs that one is beginning to form.

Some ice melting systems will be more attractive than others as well as be more effective. The best options are those that match the rest of your roof, without standing out too obviously.

Ideally, they should not stand out from the rest of your roof during the rest of the year, when there is no covering snow.

The heat can be produced either by electric cables or a hydronic tube system.

The heat melts the snow and ice, either to clear a section of the roof or to create a break in the ice dam as it forms so that the water escapes rather than building upon the roof behind the ridge of ice.

Ice melting cables or heat tape can be simple strips to be installed upon the roof, often in a zigzag pattern. The heated cables can also be covered in squares or long plates of metal.

These panels will be made from metal such as aluminum, which can help enhance and spread the heating effect.

They can work over a larger area and they can also be designed to blend in with the roofing shingles so that they are more attractive.

Exposed heat cables and heat tape tend to be less effective than those which are placed under panels. They are also more likely to be damaged.

Other products are intended to be placed only along the edges of the roof, where the ice dams are most likely to form. They can target the most problematic areas rather than being used to heat and clear the entire roof.

Ice melting products can also come in the form of mesh mats, which can be fitted across a large area of the roof underneath the roofing material to melt the snow.

Different types of ice melting systems can be installed either during the construction of the roof itself or on top of the completed roof.

Some systems are installed under the roofing while others are simply fixed on top of the roofing shingles.

Heating cables and panels should be set up appropriately for the shape of your roof, particularly focusing on the areas where different parts of the roof meet and along the eaves, gutters, and downspouts.

Heating cables and strips may be placed along the edges of the roof, where the ice dams would otherwise form, or in vertical or zigzag strips that are designed to melt channels through the ice dams to enable water to escape.

The heating cables must then be connected to a power supply.

The cables or strips can be turned on when snow or ice begins to build upon the roof. The heat will melt the snow and ice, clearing the roof and preventing ice dam formation.

It is important to turn the heating cables off once they have completed their work. If they are left on they may burn out.

Heated ice removal products offer a means of removing snow and ice to prevent ice dams from forming, without having to physically remove it from the roof yourself.

You simply turn on the cables or strips when necessary and wait for them to do their work. They have then turned off again.

Pros

  • Heat cables are easy to install
  • They are cheap
  • The self-regulated models are very efficient

Cons

  • The clips can come off if not properly installed
  • The wires can overlap themselves
  1. Snow rakes

Another popular ice dam prevention tool is the snow rake. This product is similar to a regular rake, as it has a long handle and is ahead, but there is one major difference.

While a regular rake’s head consists of spaced-out claws, a snow rake’s head is made with a metal blade without spaces. And it is the blade that is responsible for dragging snow down from the roof.

The average snow rake has a handle that’s long enough to reach the roof of a bungalow. However, there are snow rakes that are designed with extendable handles that go further over the roof.

Why this tool is ideal for ice dam prevention is that it can remove the small build-ups of snow before it melts and refreezes into a dam. You also do not need to climb a ladder to use a snow rake.

Just stand in front of your house and stretch.

It is important to be careful when using a snow rake to ensure that the roof will not be harmed.

You will need to be willing to put in the time and effort to use your snow rake whenever snow begins to build upon your roof. This option is, therefore, only suitable if someone in the household is physically capable of clearing the snow.

You will also need to be able to reach up onto the roof using the snow rake. Ideally, you should be able to do this from the ground if your home is not too tall.

However, you can also use a snow rake from a stable ladder, although this is more dangerous.

If you live in a particularly tall building then a snow rake may not be appropriate for your home since it may not be possible to safely reach the roof and clear the snow.

The snow rake only needs to be able to remove snow from around the roof’s edges, not from the entire roof, so you do not need to find a rake that will enable you to clear the entire roof.

Pros

  • They are common and can be found in almost any hardware store
  • You can remove snow from your roof without having to climb a ladder
  • It is a simple product to use, no installation is required

Cons

  • You accidentally rip of your shingles or heat cables when using a snow rake
  • The metal blade of the snow rake can accidentally make contact with an overhead power line near the roof
  • It is not suitable for taller buildings
  1. Ice melts

Ice melts are not only great for defrosting driveway snow but they can also be used to defrost rooftop snow.

The idea is to get rid of the snow before it melts and refreezes into an ice dam. So get a ladder, climb up the roof, and sprinkle some ice melts over the small build-ups of snow before they become problematic.

There are different types of non-corrosive ice melts you can use to remove the snow from your roof’s eaves. These include potassium chloride and calcium chloride ice melt.

Snow-melt salts can be used to remove ice dams from the roof as they begin to fall. However, you should make sure that you avoid using rock salt since this could damage or discolor your roofing.

A calcium chloride snowmelt will be a better choice. The snowmelt can be applied in a snowmelt sock to ensure its effects are focused on the ice dam itself.

It is usually best to use the snow-melt as soon as possible after the ice dam begins to form on your roof since it will be most effective at clearing small amounts of ice.

Pros

  • Ice melts are inexpensive
  • They are easy to apply
  • They are non-corrosive

Cons

  • You have to climb a slippery ladder to apply ice melts on eaves (be sure to wear non-skid boots while you’re at it)
  1. Attic insulation

The purpose of insulating your attic is to prevent indoor heat from passing through the roof to the outside. The heat that escapes from the attic is responsible for the freeze and thaw cycle which leads to the ice dam build-up.

You can use an 8-inch layer of attic insulation to help stop the heat from going outside.

Doing this offers 2 advantages. First, it prevents the freeze/thaw cycle, secondly, it keeps your indoors warmer during the winter season.

Pros

  • The extra insulation can save you money on heating bills
  • You don’t have to climb your roof

Cons

  • Attic insulation can cost between $1,500 to $3,000

Manual Labor

Rather than using ice melting cables or snowmelt to deal with ice on your roof, it is possible to hack the ice away manually. You can use a sharp implement such as a chisel to break holes in the ice.

The melted snow will then be able to escape through these gaps rather than building up and leaking through your roof. It is also possible to meet gaps in the ice dam by pouring warm water over it.

These can only be temporary solutions, however.

If the weather remains cold, the ice can reform within a few days.

This option requires a lot more work than using ice melting cables or snowmelt as you will need to physically break through the ice.

It is also more difficult and dangerous since you will need to reach the ice formation by standing on a ladder while you are breaking it apart.

Although it is possible to hire people to clear ice and snow from your roof, this can be an expensive option and it can take some time.

Conclusion

The ice dam prevention products listed here can all get the job done.

However, I advise you to consider the pros and cons of each product and see how it fits into your unique situation before using them.

Good luck!

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