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 Photo of a roof with ice dams

Though icicles hanging off the eaves of your home may look pretty, they’re often a sign something’s amiss. In fact, an icy roof is often a signal you have an ice dam, and this can wreak havoc on your home. As your go-to roof specialists in Montreal, Laval and surrounding areas, the team at René Perron Couvreurs can help you remove snow from your roof and prevent ice dams.

Continuous cycles of thawing and freezing of melting snow create ice dams:

  • Ice forms while the snow is melting on the roof’s surface

  • The water flows under the snow, and freezes again at the edge of the roof, creating a dam

  • More snow melts, creating a puddle up against the dam, and often moving the water back up under the shingles

Consequently, this problem often causes infiltrations.

Why do some houses get ice dams and not others?

Your attic remains cold in winter because outside air freely enters this space through your home’s ventilation system. This space acts as a buffer zone between your home and the elements. However, attics must have adequate insulation and air circulation. If you have a ventilation or insulation problem in the attic, heat escapes from your house, stagnates in the attic and causes the temperature on the roof surface to rise and slowly melt the snow on your roof. As the snow melts, it runs down your roof and freezes along the edge of your eaves, forming an ice dam. Over time, the ice dam can worsen, causing water to seep under the shingles and leak into your home.

Quick fixes

Don’t use a shovel or sharp tool to break up an ice dam. Even if you’re careful, you risk damaging the shingles.

The recommended short- and medium-term methods are:

  • Using a de-icing agent adapted to roofs: make small gullies with an ecological melting agent to allow the accumulated water to drain as quickly as possible.

  • Install a heating wire. Although these are usually installed in the fall as a preventive measure, they can also be used to create gullies in an ice dam that has already formed. They can be purchased at big box stores and are easy to install. These cables provide a small amount of constant heat that melts snow and ice, leaving a path for the water to drain away. Note that a certain amount of time is required (a few hours).

Long-term solutions to avoid ice dams on your roof

Although you can break up an ice dam to prevent water from seeping into your home, doing so doesn’t address the root of the problem. If your roof keeps forming ice dams, you will need to have the problem diagnosed: when repairing your shingle membrane, notify your roofer of the situation so that he can attempt to correct it. However, they might also recommend improving your home’s insulation or ventilation. Fortunately, you may be able to apply for a grant through a government-sponsored program like Rénoclimat to help you cover the cost of these updates.

Do you need help breaking up an ice dam or removing snow from your roof? Do you live in Montreal, Laval or the surrounding area? If so, the team at René Perron Couvreurs can help. Questions, Comments or to find out more about our services? Contact us! Jacques Perron

Published December 6, 2013 - Refreshed February 7, 2022

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