How Do Metal Roofs Prevent Ice Dams?

methods for ice dam removal and prevention

Wintertime comes with low temperatures and plenty of heavy snowstorms. You have to turn up your home temperature, wear more clothes, and depend on your taste for adventure, enjoy a lovely time out sledding. But it also happens to be the season for ice dams.


Understanding Ice Dams


An ice dam forming on your roof is an issue any homeowner needs to be concerned about. Ice dams are a wall of ice that forms on the edge of a roof, causing a blockage. They form a dam that prevents ice and snowmelt from draining out through the gutters and downspouts. If you spot icicles forming on the corners of your home, that’s a direct sight that you have ice dams forming on the roof. If left neglected, the dam will eventually become so big that it gets trapped behind the dam instead of the water freezing and becoming part of the ice.


How Does an Ice Dam Form?


Ice dams form when snow accumulates on a sloped roof and is warmed underneath by warm air escaping through the attic space of your home. When the snow resting on your roof melts to water, it trickles down the roof’s slope towards the colder edges that are at the bottom of the roof. The cold temperature then re-freezes them back into ice. The ice gradually thickens, causing ice dams to form. 


Problems Caused by Ice Damming


roof ice dam prevention



The moisture and weight from melting snow that causes ice dams can do a lot of damage to ceilings, gutters, and the overall roofing structure. The wall of ice formed restricts meltwater from draining, compelling the water to pool and possibly leak through your roof and into your house. Not only can the leakages severely damage your home’s interior, but they can also lead to the growth of mildew and mold, which cause respiratory problems.


Heavy ice and snow buildup is a common ice dam problem that can cause parts of your roof to cave in, threatening a possible collapse in the future. There’s also the risk of bodily injury from the ice dam falling off. Several people have lost their lives from falling icicles. As you can see, it’s important that homeowners put in place measures to prevent ice damming if they are going to avoid severe bodily injury or damage to their property. One effective precautionary measure you should consider is using metal roofing.


How a Metal Roof Prevent Ice Dams


ice dams on metal roofs in winter


If you live in an area prone to below-freezing temperatures, you need to consider installing a metal roof. Metal roofing is an excellent choice for new roofs or re-roofing projects and is a lot more durable than other commonly used roofing materials such as asphalt shingles. Shingles also form many small layers, which gives snow and ice something to cling to—picture rock climbers and how they hold on to small cracks and irregularities to maintain a firm position. But metal roofings have nothing for ice dams to adhere to.


Yes, the snow can grip on raised metal screws used to attach the metal sheets to the roof deck, but that’s not much footing for an ice dam weighing several tons when you think about it. However, a shingled roof has many ridges, and considering how popular they have become recently, a roof might have even more ridges. The ridges combined with the coarse texture of the shingles hold ice and snow with ease. A metal roof does have ridges, but the ridges run vertically (top to bottom) across the sheets rather than side to side, as is with asphalt shingles. 


This doesn’t mean that wet snow and heavy ice won’t stick to the metal sheets. But the smooth nature of metal will make it easy for them to fall off, especially in the case of a steeply placed metal roof. You can also be sure the snow will fall off any time your sheets receive a little sunlight seeing as they are incredible heat conductors. After all, a foolproof way to prevent ice damming is by ensuring there’s no accumulation of ice in the first place – unless you have snow stops installed on your metal roofing.


What Are Snow Stops


Many homeowners are understandably concerned about the snow falling off the metal roof and causing damage to cars, properties or even falling on someone’s head. Snow stops or snow guards are devices designed to prevent snow from suddenly falling off metal roofing and causing damage or personal injury. 


A rooftop avalanche can be fatal at its worst, and snow stops holding and retains snow before it can be safely evacuated from the metal roofing. They do protect homeowners from liability in case of an accident. But the truth is, they do not do too much to help prevent ice dams


A Metal Roof Is Not 100% Ice-Dam Proof


Another piece of truth you should also know is that theoretically, it’s still very possible for metal roofs to get ice dams. As the snow melts into water, it can still freeze on the cold edges of the sheets, creating an ice buildup.


However, it’s far less likely to leak because of an ice dam. Metal sheets don’t have shingles for the water to penetrate. The only place water can work its way under the metal roof is through the screws, and even then, these screws usually have rubber seals to keep out water.


How to Eliminate Ice Dams on Metal Roofs


eliminate ice dams on metal roof


No homeowner wants to see ice dams and icicles popping out from their roof gutters. They can cause extensive damage to the roof and the house, not to mention the injury risk they pose to the house’s residents. As explained above, ice dams on metal roofs are rare during the winter for various reasons. But for it to serve you for a long time, you need to take extra measures to prevent ice dams from forming on your metal roof. Start by making sure your attic space is well insulated. You want to keep the warm air that flows upward to the metal roofing and causes ice damming at its utmost minimum.


Also, make sure the attic space has proper ventilation to avoid warm air from getting trapped in your metal roof. With these tips, you can have confidence that your metal roofing holds up during the harshest of winters, and your house stays free of ice dams for a very long time. 


Get In Touch With Hot Edge Roof Ice Melt Today


No one knows more about removing and preventing ice dams through innovation more than Hot Edge Roof Ice Melt. For instance, the Hot Edge Roof Ice Dam Prevention System is specifically designed to compress heat directly to the metal roof to prevent water from refreezing.

If you would like to know more about the ice dam prevention systems available at Hot Edge Roof Ice Melt, call us today to inquire more about our services.


More Posts