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What is an Ice Dam? Why is it Bad for Your Roof?

As winter tightens its grip on Rochester, homeowners must confront various challenges, including the formation of ice dams on their roofs. Understanding what ice dams are and the potential damage they can cause is crucial for maintaining the integrity of your home through the winter months. In this article, we’ll explore the phenomenon of ice dams, their causes, and why they pose a significant risk to your roofing system.

Understanding Ice Dams

Ice dams are ridges of ice that form at the edge of a roof, preventing melting snow from draining off the roof. This occurs when heat from inside your home escapes into the attic and warms the roof, except at the eaves. Snow on the warmer part of the roof melts and flows down until it reaches the colder eaves, where it refreezes into an ice dam.

Causes of Ice Dams

Why Ice Dams are a Problem

Water Damage

The most immediate threat from ice dams is water damage. As ice dams block melting snow from draining, water can back up underneath roof shingles, penetrating the roof deck and leaking into the attic. From there, it can seep into walls, ceilings, and insulation, causing significant damage and potentially leading to mold growth.

Structural Damage

Over time, the weight of the ice dam itself can cause physical damage to the gutters and the roof structure. This added stress may lead to sagging gutters, damaged shingles, and in extreme cases, compromise the structural integrity of the roof.

Increased Risk of Mold and Mildew

The moisture from the leaking roof creates ideal conditions for mold and mildew to thrive. These fungi can spread quickly, posing health risks to inhabitants and requiring extensive remediation to remove.

Preventing Ice Dams

Preventing ice dams starts with addressing the causes:


Ice dams are more than just a winter nuisance; they pose a serious threat to the health and integrity of your roof and home. Understanding the causes and implementing preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of ice dams forming. If you’re concerned about ice dams on your roof, Summit Exteriors offers professional evaluations and solutions tailored to your home’s specific needs. Protect your roof and your home by taking proactive steps against ice dams this winter.