Ice Dams in Tahoe

January 19, 2024

If you live in snow county, you’ve probably heard of the term “ice dams” – you’ve likely even experienced the repercussions of having one on your roof. But what exactly causes an ice dam on your roof? 

An ice dam is caused when the heat inside a house rises up into the attic space. This warm air rises into the roof where snow as accumulated. These patches of warm air cause the snow in that area to melt and run off the roof surface. When that newly melted ice reaches the edges of the roof, where it is colder, the water freezes again and forms a dam of ice. That ice dam traps the melted water – this is where the problem can occur. This melted water can back up underneath the roof system and cause a leak. 

There are many ways to prevent ice damns from occurring – if you are building your home – starting at this stage and designing the roof line to shed snow more freely is an excellent way to minimize ice dams. If the house is already built, changing the roof pitch is not usually feasible. Metal roofing, as long as it is not low pitched, can automatically help prevent ice dams because a pitched metal roof will shed snow more effectively than any other roofing material. 

Ice dams on your Tahoe roof can be an indicator of poor ventilation. If the roof is properly ventilated and insulated, it should not be causing the warm air pockets to melt the snow in a way that causes an ice dam to form. Many homes in Tahoe are lacking proper ventilation. A knowledgeable roofing contractor can help you determine if your Tahoe home has enough ventilation, and if not can recommend and install a ventilation system that is good for your home. 

Heat cables are another commonly used practice in preventing ice dams. A heat cable is exactly what it sounds like – a cable that is installed on your roof that heats up to prevent snow from accumulating. Having a snow removal company remove snow from your roof will also help prevent ice dams from occurring. These however, are solutions - but they are not the cure. The cure to ice dams is to correct the ventilation and insulation problem. 

If you’re looking for a roofer in Tahoe to help with your roof, give American Eagle Roofing a call!