Water Damage from Ice Dams

Water Damage from Ice Dams

What to Do and When To Call A Professional
Ice Dam | Water Damage | Service Restoration

In States where thawing and freezing occurs, “Ice Dams” can cause significant worry to property owners. Ice dams occur in colder months and can lead to water damage in homes and buildings. An ice dam is a buildup of ice on the eaves or edges of a roof, which prevents proper drainage. The ice build up can cause water to seep under the shingles and into the home, resulting in water damage. Water will follow the path of least resistance, which can unfortunately mean back into your home.

Service Restoration discusses how ice dams cause water damage and the steps to take to prevent and repair damage. Ice dams are created when snow and ice begin to melt but refreeze into an ice barrier at an intersection on your roof. As a result, the most common intersections for ice dams on a roof are gutters or roof valleys. The ice barrier can cause water to pool up and find an escape point, usually under the shingles. When water gets under shingles and into the home, resulting in water damage to the walls, ceilings, and floors because the water can’t follow the traditional run-off path.


Being proactive to prevent ice dams is the best way to avoid water damage. Here are some steps you can take to prevent ice dams:

  • Keep your gutters clean: Clean gutters allow water to flow freely, preventing water from backing up and forming ice dams.
  • Insulate your attic: Adequate attic insulation can help prevent heat from escaping through the roof, reducing the likelihood of ice dams forming.
  • Ventilate your attic: Proper attic ventilation allows warm air to escape, reducing the chance of snow melting and refreezing on the roof.
  • Use a roof rake: A roof rake can be used to remove snow from the roof, preventing it from melting and refreezing on the roof. If you see your neighbors with a perimeter of snow shoveled off their roof, they are taking a proactive approach to avoiding ice dams.

Next Steps

If your property experiences water damage from an ice dam, it is important to address the issue quickly. Once the issue (ice dam) has been solved, the next steps are:

  • First, remove any standing water: Use a professional grade extractor to remove any standing water from the affected area. Wet/Dry Vacuums can remove some water, however cannot adequately remove moisture from carpet, carpet padding, or other materials that trap moisture.
  • Second, dry out the area: Use commercial air movers and dehumidifiers to dry out the area as quickly as possible. Residential fans and dehumidifiers often do not have enough air movement or dehumidifying ability to stop the damage from worsening. As previously mentioned, using at home equipment may not dry the affected materials quickly enough, which allows mold begin growing.
  • Third, remove any damaged materials: Remove any damaged drywall, insulation, or other materials. Check all materials in the affected area to analyze whether they are dry, can be dried, or need to be removed. To clarify, dry to the touch does not mean equilibrium moisture content has been achieved. There may be a higher moisture content deeper in the affected material.
  • Lastly, repair the damage: Replace any damaged materials and repair any structural damage. Policy holders are allowed to choose their desired contractor to perform the rebuild at their property. In fact, Service Restoration recommends using the restoration company that performed the water mitigation to understand the full property history.

In summary, ice dams can cause significant water damage to homes and buildings. The best way to avoid water damage from an ice dam is taking preventative measures. If you do experience water damage from an ice dam, it is important to address the issue quickly to prevent further damage. Also, a quick response from the property owner assures your insurance carrier that you’re taking the proper actions to remedy the issue. Therefore, by taking the necessary steps to prevent ice dams from occurring, you can protect your home or property from the harmful aftermath.

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