How to Prevent Ice Dams


EZ Breathe helps to prevent ice dams by reducing the stack effect, thereby preventing excessive warm air from rising. This will help keep the roof cooler, so the snow won’t melt and lead to the formation of ice dams.

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of the roof and prevents melting snow from draining off the roof. Warm air leaking from the house into the attic is the primary cause of ice dams.

To prevent Ice Dams, it’s important to keep the roof cold. How do we do that when warm air rises? Commonly referred to as the “Stack Effect” or “Chimney Effect” is the natural tendency for warm air to rise. During the heating season is when this effect is most prominent, often leading to:

  1. Significant heat/energy loss through the upper levels of the home
  2. Uncomfortable temperature balances within the home
  3. Ice Dam formation on the roof and gutters


  • Keeping the roof as cool as possible is key to ice dam prevention
  • Sealing attic air leaks saves energy and is helpful to preventing ice dams. 
  • Reducing the over-all “stack effect” in the home is key to preventing ice dams. Keeping the warm air in the living environment where it belongs and preventing it from rising into the attic will keep the roof cool. If the roof stays cold, the snow will not melt and ice dams will not form. It’s that simple…

How to Reduce the “Stack Effect”

stack effectBy creating foundation ventilation at the very bottom of the home, in the basement or crawlspace, the natural tendency for heat to rise will be diminished. By exhausting the stagnant, often times dirty, damp air from the foundation, the warmer, drier air from upstairs will travel down to replace that damp, dirty air. This slight negative draw will not only keep excessive heat from being lost through the roof, but will also create a healthier environment in the whole home by creating a path of escape for indoor pollutants residing in the basement/crawlspace that would otherwise get drawn up by the stack effect into the living environment creating a poor indoor air quality throughout the home.

EZ Breathe Ventilation System will improve the indoor air quality in your home while protecting your home from damaging ice dams!

Problems Associated with Ice Dams

Ice dams are problematic because they force water to leak from the roof into the building envelope (ceiling and walls). This may lead to:

  • Rotted roof decking, rafters and exterior and interior wall framing and sheathing;
  • Respiratory illnesses (allergies, asthma, etc.) caused by mold growth
  • Icicles form and can grow to gigantic sizes.  These icicles, and the large mass of ice behind them, break off and can cause roof, gutter and siding damage, as well as injure, and even kill, people who are unlucky enough to be underneath them when the fall off.
  • Reduced effectiveness of insulation. Wet insulation doesn’t work well, and chronically wet insulation will not decompress even when it dries. Without working insulation, even more heat will escape to the roof where more snow will melt, causing more ice dams which, in turn, will lead to leaks.
  • Peeling paint. Water from the leak will infiltrate wall cavities and cause paint to peel and blister. This may happen long after the ice dam has melted and thus not appear directly related to the ice dam.

What NOT to Do

  • Installing heating cables will shorten the life of your roof and cost you money to operate.
  • Removing ice with shovels, chippers, chemicals, or heat can damage shingles, gutters, and other building components—and can be dangerous.
  • Adding roof vents—including powered vents—will not eliminate ice dams, and often makes the problems worse.
  • Additional insulation—especially on the top plate of exterior walls—can reduce heat transfer to the roof deck, but insulation alone is insufficient.

Contact us today to learn more or request a free quote!