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What Are Ice Dams and How Do You Prevent Them?

Significant snow events followed by fluctuating temperatures can lead to destructive ice dams.

Ice dams occur when water from melting snow runs down the surface of your roof and then re-freezes, usually as it gets towards the edges of the roof, creating a block—or a dam—where any subsequent run-off starts to pool. The blocked, unfrozen water can then find its way under shingles and then, as the temperature fluctuates, re-freeze and lift the shingles from the roof, allowing water to enter.

How to Recognize Ice Dams

There are several signs that may indicate the presence of an ice dam. This is what you should be on the lookout for after a snow storm:

  • Water or ice inside or around window frames
  • Visible ice or water on your home’s siding
  • Icicles or ice build-up along your roof’s edge or behind gutters
  • Ice emerging from any exterior vents along your roof



If you recognize an ice dam on your home, monitor the spaces directly under your roof for signs of water intrusion. A professional can assist you in removing ice dams with steamers or ice melt.

How to Prevent Ice Dams

The most effective way to prevent ice dams is to have a professional clear your roof after each significant snowfall, especially if temperatures are forecast to fluctuate below and above freezing following the storm. You can also reduce the amount of heat that escapes from your roof—in turn reducing snow melt—by ensuring that your attic is properly insulated and ventilated. Lastly, having a waterproof underlayment installed can prevent water intrusion lower the risk of damage should an ice dam form.

A PURE Member Advocate® can assist in locating a qualified vendor in your area. Reach out at 888.813.7873 or via the PURE Member Portal or PURE Insurance Mobile App.

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