Frequently Asked Questions

Roof Ice Problems

Ice dams and icicles occur as a result of: Understanding Roof Ice Problems, How do Ice Dams Form?, Ice Damming, Roof Ice, Gutter Ice, Ice Dam

  • Snow buildup on the roof
  • Heat loss from the building
    • Through insulation
    • Through chimneys
    • Through roof vents
  • Winter temperature fluctuations – freeze/thaw cycles
  • Solar heating during winter days with below freezing nights
  • One or a combination of these factors contribute to ice dam formation

The Winter Process

  1. Winter storms build up snow on the roof.
  2. Heat from the building (through insulation, chimneys, and roof vents) and from the sun (solar gain) causes roof snow melt.
  3. Melted snow runs down roof lines to valleys and eaves.
  4. The melted snow refreezes at the base of the valleys and at the eaves or gutters.
  5. As day/night time temperatures cycle up and down and heat loss melts the snow, the ice dams and icicles continue to grow.
  6. Icicles cause 'people and property safety' concerns and liability issues.

Roof and Gutter Ice Dams

Understanding Roof Ice Problems, How do Ice Dams Form?, Ice Damming, Roof Ice, Gutter Ice, Ice DamAs roof snow accumulation increases, ice dam and icicle formation likewise increase. Subsequent water ponding can lead to roof leaks, internal building damage and possible mold issues. Falling icicles can create lower roof damage, deck damage and people safety issues. The problem can vary from year to year. Our solutions are directed at preventing ice dam and icicle formation through efficiently warming the eaves, valleys, gutters and other problem areas. The products we offer have proven successful through years of use.

Please visit our ice dam prevention products page to view the innovative roof and gutter ice dam prevention products available for solving your ice dam problems. You will notice that we do not offer the typical do-it-yourself heating cables or heat tape found at hardware and big box stores. These zig zag heat cables are not effective in eliminating ice dams. In fact, under some conditions, they can actually cause ice dams and icicle formations. The exposed heating cables are prone to damage from animals, falling debris, and being pulled off the roof. While many projects can safely and effectively be undertaken by homeowners, we recommend that you hire a contractor to tackle installing this Ice Dam Prevention System.

Yes, all of our systems use self-regulating heat cables which are UL and CSA listed for roof and gutter de-icing AND approved by the manufacturer for use in our systems. ALL systems are protected by dedicated GFCI circuits or GFCI plugs/outlets as required by the National Electric Code and local building codes. The cables themselves do not overheat even when they criss cross or come into contact with themselves. These self regulating heat cables are designed only to reach temperatures necessary to melt snow and ice. Once the cables are installed they are tested to make sure that the installation process has not damaged them. Our use of Industrial Grade Self Regulating Heat Cables means years of trouble free service. We do not use hardware store zig zag roof heat cables. They are usually short-lived and ineffective.

VersaScreen IceBlaster ice dam gutter guard Costs are based on amount of heating cable needed to operate your Roof and Gutter Ice Melt System and the length of time they are operational. Once your system is designed, we will be able to inform you of how much it would cost to operate in a typical season.  Added efficiency can be achieved through the use of an ambient sensing thermostat such as our DC Series Controllers for roof ice prevention systems.

If you are having ice damming problems that lead to leaking or liability issues, you already know that not doing something can be costly. At the very least, there is the cost of your deductible each time you make a claim for repair. All repairs have a cost. Shingle removal and replacement, insulation and air sealing are all expensive and may not work. The possibility of moisture in your walls also exists. So protecting your house with a Roof and Gutter Ice Melt System is an investment that offers protection and can enhance the value of your home. That being said, we do have products and designs to meet budgets while still offering effective solutions. However, if you are looking for a 'big box store' fix, you won't find it here. For additional information on the cost of a Roof and Gutter Ice Dam Prevention System - see our blog

No, most customers only install the system where problems exist with roof ice dams, gutter ice, or valley ice dams. Since the system uses self-regulating heat cables, it can be added onto at any point should the need arise. Our systems are usually installed as a retrofit. This means it is not necessary to remove shingles or valley metal to install our ice dam prevention products.

Prevent Ice Dams and Icicle formations, roof and gutter deicing, ice dams, ice dam, ice damming, roof ice, gutter ice Yes. Instead of the heat cables being run in a zig zag or W pattern on your roof, they are installed in the aluminum panels resulting in greater efficiency, effectiveness and longevity. Zig Zag cables were never designed to prevent ice dams. In fact, they only claim to melt channels in the ice dams and are usually only effective with roof snow depths of 6 inches or less. The use of zig zag heat cables means more heat cable needs to be installed and less is accomplished. They are less efficient as well – releasing their heat energy to the atmosphere instead of being used to heat the extruded aluminum panels. Zig zag heat tape may also make your shingles brittle.

The simple answer is No – snow and temperature cause ice dams. However, some gutter protection tends to display ice dams and icicles earlier. As the melted water reaches the eave edge and comes into contact with gutter protection, it refreezes on top of it. Subsequent melting and freezing adds to the visible ice build up and icicle formations. The only way to prevent this from happening is to keep the gutter protection from freezing by using our Roof and Gutter Ice Prevention System or use a gutter protection with an integrated heat cable – Patented VersaScreen Heated Gutter Guards

No, your Roof Ice Prevention System is designed to be left in place and can provide decades of reliable service. It is recommended that a check or test of the system be performed each fall to make sure it is operational. We can provide this service upon your request for a nominal fee.

While ventilation is necessary to allow hot air to escape your attic in the summer months and is required by shingle manufacturers' warranties, adding additional ventilation to solve ice dams usually does very little. To create a ‘chimney effect’ – the drafting that occurs when hot air rises - it requires greater temperature differences between the attic and outside than we typically see in winter conditions and snow can cover roof top vents. To make matters worse, some roofing contractors have promoted the use of power ventilation that turns on in the winter. This can draw warm air from your heated living area into the attic space – making the situation even worse. The use of metal roofing to prevent ice damming has been promoted as well. While the slick surface of the metal roofing means that it is possible for the snow to slide off and eliminate ice dams, it should be noted that this unrestrained cascading can cause damage or injury to whatever is below when the snow starts to slide. Complex roof designs also interfere with a metal roof's ability to shed snow. These factors, along with the high cost of metal roof installation, should be considered. 

roof rake shingle damage, roof raking, roof rake, rake snow from roof, shovel snow off roofThis is an option that many choose. However, there is a cost involved in this even if you ‘do it yourself’. Shingles can be damaged or worn down, leading to manufacturers' warranties being voided (check the fine print). Landscaping can be damaged. Injuries can occur from falls. Some areas are just not safely accessible. And some are not physically able to perform this dangerous task. Hiring someone to do it for you can be costly. Using a Roof and Gutter Ice Prevention System can safely and effectively solve the problem of ice dams and icicles.

Air sealing of bypasses and adequate insulation are valuable tools in combating ice damming and can save you money in the long run. However, these techniques can’t prevent temperatures from fluctuating above and below freezing resulting in melting and freezing cycles. The sun also plays a large part. Snow fall is usually less higher on roofs. This melts and clears sooner and starts to absorb heat energy from the sun warming the surrounding roof surface melting additional snow which runs down the roof under the snow pack and can freeze at the eave or in the gutter. It builds until an ice dam has formed. Under these circumstances, our roof and gutter ice dam prevention systems should be considered.

 Wisconsin Ice Dam Solutions

      220 Watertown Plank Road, Unit C
      Nashotah, WI 53058

Mailing Address 
       PO Box 180193
       Delafield, WI 53018

Office:  800-385-6279