Cameron Roofing

Ice Dam/Snow Removal in Rochester, NY


What is an ice dam?

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas. Figure 1 shows a cross section of a home with an ice dam.


Roof Snow Removal Rochester, NY

Figure 1. Cross section of a one-and-a-half story
house with an ice dam.

What causes ice dams?

1. Heat collects in the attic and warms the roof, except at the eaves.

2. Snow melts on the warm roof and then freezes on the cold eaves.

3. Ice accumulates along the eaves, forming a dam. Meltwater from the warm roof backs up behind it, flows under the shingles, and into the house.


Dealing with Ice Dams and Roof Snow Removal

Immediate action:
  • Removing snow from the roof eliminates one of the ingredients necessary for the formation of an ice dam. A "roof rake" and push broom can be used to remove snow, but may damage the roofing materials if used improperly. Roof snow removal can be a dangerous job and if it’s not done correctly, ice dams can come back even worse along with potential damage to your roof. Instead of putting yourself or your roof at risk, call Cameron Roofing to get the job done properly.
  • In an emergency situation where water is flowing into the house structure, making channels through the ice dam allows the water behind the dam to drain off the roof. The channel will become ineffective within days and is only a temporary solution to ice dam damage. This may need to be done more than once depending on the severity of the winter. Contact Cameron Roofing immediately to help you with this problem at (585) 248-3000.
Long-term action:
  • First, make the ceiling air tight so no warm, moist air can flow from the house into the attic space.
  • After sealing air leakage paths between the house and attic space, consider increasing the ceiling/roof insulation to cut down on heat loss by conduction.
  • Have your home inspected to make sure it has adequate insulation and ventilation.

Both of these actions will increase the snow load that your roof has to carry because it will no longer melt. Can your roof carry the additional load? If it is built to current codes, there should not be a structural problem. Roofs, like the rest of the home, should have been designed to withstand expected snow loads.


  • Natural roof ventilation can help maintain uniform roof temperatures, but if the long-term actions described here are done effectively, then only small amounts of roof ventilation are needed to maintain uniform roof surface temperatures. If heat transfer has been reduced substantially, then snow will build up on the roof and cover natural roof ventilation systems, reducing attic ventilation rates. Natural attic ventilation systems are needed to dry the attic space and remove heat buildup during the summer.

Mechanical attic ventilation IS NOT a recommended solution to ice dams. It can create other attic moisture problems and may cause undesirable negative pressure in the home.

WARNING!
Any person on the roof during the winter or performing work on the roof from below is risking injury and risking damage to the roof and house. Contact Cameron Roofing immediately for ice dam and snow removal at (585) 248-3000.


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Providing Roofing Services To :

Rochester, Pittsford, Penfield, Fairport and Henrietta NY.

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