Ice Dam Roof Leak – Causes, Common Signs, And Practical Fixes

Here I’ll be discussing how ice dams can cause leaks in your roof and what you can do about it.

Ice dams are no joke, as they can rip off your shingles and damage your gutters. But that’s not where it stops, they will eventually melt and ice dam water can leak through your roof.

This results in ice in gutters leaking into the house through the roof.

Roof Leaks When Snow Melts

If this happens, then you need to do something about it as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your structure.

If you’re faced with this predicament, then you can relax, as you are reading the right article.

How Do Ice Dams Cause Roof Leaks?

When ice melts on your roof, the run-off will eventually gather around the eaves. And as it drips downwards, it will freeze and form icicles along the edges.

This process will lead to the formation of ice dams. And as time passes, the dams will grow until water is no longer able to flow off your roof.

Water gathers right behind the ice dam when it melts, and forms a pool under your shingles and flashing. This is exactly how an ice dam can cause your roof to leak.

Another issue with ice dams is that they clog your gutters, which in turn stops water from flowing through. This will also cause more pools of water to build upon your roof.

Will An Ice Dam Cause Damage All The Time?

While ice dams tend to be problematic, they do not cause damage to your roof every single time they form.

One of the reasons for this is improved weather conditions. Ice can form after a harsh snowstorm but can melt off quickly if there is no more snow and the sun comes out.

In this case, the water will melt and eventually flow off the roof.

But if the freezing conditions persist, then the ice dams will not only form, they will also increase in size. The bigger the ice dam, the heavier it becomes, and the weight can press into your eaves and gutters.

This will eventually cause leaks in your roof.

What You Can Do When Ice Dam Water Starts Leaking Through Your Roof

There are several ice dam prevention approaches you can employ, but they too can fail sometimes. When this happens, a putty patch or turn-off valve may not be your best bet.

With this in mind, I’ll be recommending some steps you can take to deal with ice dam water leakages.

  1. Hire a water damage restoration service

There are too many problems associated with ice dam water leaks. These include damp ceilings, wet drywall, wet floors, and the annoying drip stains that come with them.

These problems may be too overwhelming for you to handle, but they won’t be for a water damage restoration service. They won’t only clean up the damage, they’ll also restore your structure to normal.

Even though you’re the DIY type, you may not have the kind of experience and skill the professionals have. Of course, their services will cost you some money, but it’ll be worth it in the end!

  1. Remove the ice dams yourself

Alright, you don’t want to spend your cash on a professional service. This means you’ll have to remove the problematic ice dams yourself.

But you know this will mean climbing up your roof on a slippery, ice-cold ladder and working on a frozen roof!

Still, want to go ahead? Fine, here’s what you can do to remove the ice dams yourself.

You can smash them with a hammer and chisel (but be careful not to break your brittle shingles in the process. You can also use heat cables and ice dam steamers to defrost and remove the ice formation.

You’ll be lucky if the weather conditions have improved, as this will make your job easier.

Be extremely careful when climbing up the ladder, as one wrong footing can lead to a fall. Put on a hard helmet and non-slip booths before you climb.

  1. Use your fans and heater

Now that you’ve gotten rid of the ice dams, you’ll want to begin the drying process immediately. And one of the best ways to do this is by turning on your heater and fans.

Ceiling fans are great, but standing fans can offer you better aim across the wet walls.

  1. Inspect your storm windows and weep holes

After turning on the fans, you would want to take a look at your windows. Check the weep holes in the storm window frames to ensure that they are free.

An extra tip is to drill little holes in-between your window frames and sill lips. Doing this will help guide any leaking water outside.

  1. Check to see if water is still dripping from your ceiling

After you have done all that has been recommended here, take one more thorough look at your ceiling to ensure that there are no more leaks.

If you still find water dripping through the light fixtures in your ceiling, then you need to take another approach.

Call the pros!

Do Icicles Mean Poor Insulation?

Even though icicles do not pile up water into your house like dams, they remain a clear sign that there are problems with your attic.

When your insulation is matted, it will eventually lead to heat loss in the roof. And this will in turn lead to the formation of icicles by the eaves.

To add to that, ineffective ventilation in your attic may lead to the formation of freezing and melting cycles on your roof. So, if you ever find icicles along your eaves, then you can be sure that dams will begin to form.

Does Insurance Cover Ice Dam Removal?

The answer is no, homeowners insurance does not cover the costs involved with getting rid of ice dams. You’ll have to be responsible for that.

However, it can cover the water damage caused by leaking ice dams.


Ice dam roof leaks have to be attended to quickly, if not you’ll be faced with more damage than you expected.

Follow the tips provided here to handle ice dam roof leaks, and ensure the insulation in your attic is effective enough to prevent a build-up.

Good luck!

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