Ice Dams and Your Roof – How to Prevent it From Causing Leaks


Ice Dams and Your Roof – How to Prevent it From Causing Leaks


Happy New Year from your local roofers in Queens!  Now that winter has reared its ugly head and dropped a huge load of snow, homeowners are now scrambling to winterize their home to keep the water out and the heat in.  One very common cause of leaks in your home after a huge snowstorm is ice dams.

What is an Ice Dam?

Simply put, an ice dam is when a thick layer of snow and ice form along the perimeter of your roof, effectively causing water to pool on the roof top instead of flowing off the edges into your gutters.  It’s a very common issue that many homeowners experience, and can cause some severe leakage into your home.

How can you prevent it?

The most common cause of Ice Dams is poor attic insulation.  Ice dams occur when snow and ice melts above your living space due to interior heat escaping into your attic.  Once that heat absorbs into the roof deck, the snow melts and water runs past your wall cavity.  It eventually  refreezes over your soffits where there is no more internal heat to keep it in liquid state.  Once it starts freezing, water can’t flow past and it pools behind the ice, eventually making its way under your shingles and into your attic, and onto your ceiling.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to stop the snow from melting in the first place by keeping your attic insulated properly.  If no heat can escape through the attic, then the snow will not melt above your living space, which stops the problem at the source.  As a welcome side effect, you won’t be spending as much on oil or gas because you won’t be losing heat to the attic.  Your attic insulation should be at an R38 or higher for our region, which is 13” of fiberglass insulation.  If you’re unsure of how much you have, call a roofing professional to come have a look.

Another way to prevent leaks associated with Ice Dams is by installing a leak barrier such as  GAF’S Ice and Water Shield along the perimeters of the roof. This is a thick waterproof membrane that is installed around the perimeter of the roof to prevent leaks if there’s a buildup of water around the area.  Not all roofers in Queens and Brooklyn install Ice and Water shield, so it’s definitely a question you want to ask your roofer if you’re getting an estimate for a roof replacement.  At Big Apple, we install Ice and Water Shield with every GAF certified roof we install.

So if you notice a leak in the next few days around the perimeter of your home, it may be due to an ice dam.  If your unsure, give us a call and we’ll come out to provide a free inspection and a no obligation estimate to fix the issue.  Stay warm NYC!