While winter brings heartfelt family time, festive parties and holiday breaks to homeowners, it can also bring harsh conditions to your homes. From freezing temperatures to snowy days to ice accumulation, the winter season can wreak structural havoc on a house if proper steps aren’t taken.

One of the most troublesome issues winter presents is ice dams. Gutters, roofs and even interior spaces can be damaged if they go unresolved. To combat ice dams, homeowners need to understand what exactly they are and effective methods for their prevention and removal.

What is an Ice Dam?

Ice dams are a common wintertime problem for many homeowners. They occur when the heat from inside your home causes the snow on your roof to melt. The water then runs down the slope of the roof, only to refreeze when it reaches the colder eaves, which leads to the formation of a dam of ice.

The dam gets larger and larger as more snow melts and refreezes. This buildup of ice can cause a multitude of problems including damage to your roof, gutters and the home’s interior if the water backs up and leaks into your house.

The essence of preventing ice dams lies in maintaining an even temperature across your roof. Keeping the entire surface consistently cold will prevent the melting and refreezing cycle that leads to ice dam formation.

Traditional Methods for Ice Dam Removal

Using Chemicals and Tools

Calcium Chloride

Calcium chloride is a common and safe chemical method used to melt ice dams. It can be easily purchased in pellet form from most hardware stores. To apply, fill a nylon stocking with the calcium chloride pellets and place it vertically across the ice dam. The calcium chloride will slowly melt the ice and will create a channel for the trapped water to drain off the roof.

It is important to be cautious as the runoff might damage the plants below. This method is effective for spot treatments, but may not be the most practical solution for larger scale ice dam issues.

Physical Removal

Physical removal usually involves using a roof rake or a similar tool to break the ice into chunks that can be removed manually. This method can be effective and quick, especially for smaller ice dams. However, you must take care to avoid damaging the shingles on your roof. The tools used for this method can easily scrape, dent or otherwise damage roofing materials which can lead to expensive repairs down the line.

The Immediate and Most Efficient Solution: Vented Soffits

Adding vented soffits to your home is a great way to prevent ice dams, among other benefits.

Improved Ventilation

Soffits are crucial for maintaining proper attic ventilation and an even roof temperature, which is key to stopping the snow melt and refreeze cycle. Vented soffits, in particular, promote continuous airflow from the eaves to the peak of the roof and help to keep the entire roof at the same temperature to ward off ice dams.

Added Aesthetic Value

Not only are vented soffits functional, but they're also an upgrade to your home's aesthetic. With a variety of colors available from manufacturers like Rollex, you can match your soffits to your home's exterior for a cohesive look. Vented soffits can serve as a complementary solution to solar panels or a solar glass shingled roof.

Additional Ice Dam Prevention Methods


Upgrading your attic insulation is an effective method of preventing heat transfer, a key contributor to ice dam formation. Insufficient insulation allows heat from the living spaces below to escape into the attic, which raises the temperature and causes the snow on the roof above to melt. As this water flows to the colder edge of the roof, it refreezes, which leads to ice dams.

Enhancing your attic's insulation helps keep the heat inside your home, not in the attic. This helps maintain a uniform roof temperature and reduces the chances of snow melting and refreezing.

There are several insulation choices like fiberglass, cellulose or spray foam, each with its own set of advantages. However, proper installation is crucial no matter what material is used, so consider hiring a professional for correct and safe installation. While there is an upfront cost, the long-term energy savings make attic insulation a worthy investment.

Airflow Leaks

Air leaks in your home can contribute to ice dam formation by allowing warm air to escape into the attic and heat the roof. Common sources of these types of leaks include gaps around light fixtures, chimneys, plumbing vents and access hatches. Sealing the gaps with caulk or expanding foam can significantly reduce warm air leakage to help maintain an even roof temperature and prevent the freeze-thaw cycle that leads to ice dams.

Electric Heat Cables

Heat cables, also known as heat tapes, are another effective solution for preventing ice dams. They are installed in a zigzag pattern along the roof's edge, in valleys and around skylights or vents — all areas that are particularly susceptible to ice dam formation. When switched on, they warm up to melt any accumulated snow and ice before it can form into an ice dam.

What sets self-regulating heat cables apart is their ability to adjust energy output based on the temperature to help ensure efficient energy usage and prevent overheating. They are a practical solution for ice dam prevention.

A Truly Innovative Ice Dam Prevention Solution: Solar Panels

Although not typically marketed as ice dam preventatives, solar panels are innovative prevention solutions. While the purpose of solar panels is to generate electricity, they offer a hidden bonus of being very effective at melting snow and ice builds up on the roof. More advanced solar setups, like Tesla’s Solar Roof, are even more effective.

The materials used in their construction and the small amount of heat they generate while collecting sunlight is an unforeseen bonus in terms of speeding up roof snow and ice melt. This of course is beneficial to keeping the panels clear for energy collection, but also works to limit ice dam formation.

Of course, solar panels provide an unrelated primary function — generating renewable energy for your home! Using solar power reduces your carbon footprint, lowers those pesky electricity bills, and provides an incredible power backup, even more important for homes in regions where harsh winters create ice dams.

Glass-Shingle Roofs

Instead of solar panels, how about a roof of solar panel shingles? This innovative solution works by transforming the entire roof covering into light-collecting glass shingles. Not only do the shingles help maintain an even roof temperature, but they also speed up the melting process of any accumulated snow. This combination prevents the formation of ice dams while still producing energy for your home.

The shingles are aesthetically pleasing and will ensure that your house stands out in the neighborhood. Solar solutions, therefore, not only serve as a functional addition to your home but also as an aesthetic improvement that makes them a worthy consideration in the fight against ice dams.

Rollex Can Help Remove Ice Dams with Their Innovative Solutions

At Rollex, we offer innovative solutions to combat ice dams. Our high-quality vented soffits can enhance your home's appeal and help to ensure proper roof ventilation, which reduces the risk of ice dam formation. Available in various colors, our vented soffits add elegance while serving their purpose. They also work well with improved attic insulation or solar solutions to ensure homeowners with modern advances or recent renovations still get the protection they need. Our experts can guide you in choosing the right products for a warm, ice-dam-free winter season. Contact us today for more information.