home / learning center / ice dams

Ice damming issues: What to look for and how to prevent it

JANUARY 15, 2021

Ice dams are a common winter occurrence in North Dakota. They can cause water to enter the home and stain walls, soak insulation and in severe cases, lead to dry rot of roof frames.

Ice dams form when melting snow from the warmer part of the roof runs down to the eave area where the roof is usually colder. At the edge of the home, the runoff re-freezes and builds up along the roof edge or into a gutter. As it pushes back up the roof, an ice dam is formed. The dam forces melting snow water into the home under the shingles where it damages walls and insulation.

Mitigating Ice Dam Loss

Although ice dams do not necessarily damage the shingles, the water that enters the building can damage everything from the roof decking to the interior carpet and flooring. For this reason, prompt action must be taken to prevent, or minimize damage.

The effective steps to quickly mitigate and resolve ice dam losses are:

·        Whenever possible, have the unmelted snow (NOT THE ICE) removed from the roof. Removing excess snow can lessen water intrusion and also lower the amount of ice that collects.

·        Water entering your home is due to heat from the attic or space between living areas melting the outdoor ice. If you have water intrusion, it is best to contact a roofing contractor or insulation expert to see what can be done.

·        Do not try remove the ice! Pulling, chipping, or chiseling iced areas can do more damage to the roof and shingles and actually cause more water intrusion. It may also cause more damage by bending gutters and denting soffits.

·        If you have a spot with what appears to have a concentration of water in the roof space, you may want to poke a small hole in your sheetrock in that area and catch the water in a bucket until you can get the problem remedied. While this may create a small inconvenience to repair later, it could help to lessen extensive ceiling damage.

What to do to prevent Ice Dam losses

If you see your home is susceptible to ice damming, the best thing you can do it take appropriate action in the spring and summer. It would be advisable to consult with a roofing contractor. But the main issue is to LOWER the temperature in attic or ceiling areas between your living space and the roof. Some options are:

·        Adding insulation to attic areas. This will help keep the heat where it is designed to be, in your home! Extra insulation also will save on the pocketbook when it comes to heating costs.

·        Extra roof venting in certain areas. Adding roof vents allows heat to escape in tight areas, cooling the space between the roof and living area. Roof vents work great in vaulted areas or where insulation installation is difficult or impossible.

·        Again, monitor and mark areas this winter to identify areas where these small cost alterations can help avoid damage in coming winters.


Nodak Insurance Company

1101 1st Ave N
Fargo, ND 58102