How To Prevent Ice Dams in Park City

Removing a double ice dam

Removing a double ice dam


Living in beautiful Park City has many incredible benefits, but our unique climate also poses significant challenges for local homeowners. A major issue that Park City homeowners face is the formation of ice dams.

Ice dams are dangerous, can cause a lot of damage and can lead to expensive repairs. Let’s take a look at why ice dams form on Park City homes, and what can be done to prevent them.

What Are Ice Dams?

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.

Ice dams are found in the valley’s and eaves of a home's roof and can extend down to the ground. Ice dams can grow to weigh thousands of pounds and can pose severe threats to homes and people.

How Do Ice Dams Form?

Ice dams form from a complex interaction between the amount of heat loss from your home, the outside temperature, and snow cover.

For ice dams to form you need there to be snow on a roof, the outside temperature must be below 32 degrees F on average, and the higher portions of your roof must be above 32 degrees F.

When these 3 factors happen in harmony over sustained periods of time, ice dams form.

As the snow on your roof begins to melt at the top where the surface temperature is above 32 degrees F, it melts to the bottom of the roof that is below 32 degrees and freezes.

This happens because heat rises and your home is losing heat through the roof. This causes the areas above your living area to heat up while the eaves or edges of your roof that extend beyond the indoor living area maintain the outdoor temperature.

As this happens over and over, the ice dam builds in size and the potential dangers grow.


1. Install Heat Cable

Heat cable or heat trace is a snow melt solution for your roof that is highly effective for preventing ice dams.

You have likely seen it on homes all around Park City; it’s the black cable that can be seen on the eaves (edges of a roof) and valleys of a house.

How Does Heat Cable Work & What does It do?

Heat cable melts snow off of your roof by heating up to above freezing temperatures.

It is attached to the eaves, valleys, and gutters of your home that are susceptible to ice dams and heavy snow build up.

When temperatures drop below 40 degrees, the heat cable automatically begins to heat up to prevent ice from forming.

Because the edges of your roof are heated, the melted snow from above your living area never gets a chance to freeze on the edge of your roof.

2. Get Rooftop Snow Removal After Big Storms

We often see the biggest build up of ice dams after major winter storms hit Park City. With a foot or more of snow sitting on a roof, Ice dam buildups become major problems.

This much snow on a roof can also cause major leaks due to melted snow freezing and penetrating behind shingles.

A great way to prevent ice dams is to get snow removal after major storms hit to reduce the amount of snow that sits on your roof at one time.

This helps eliminate the thawing and freezing the causes major ice dams.

3. Install A Heated Roof

A heated roof system works like heat cable except it is installed below your roofing rather than above.

By placing flat mats of electrically heated pads on the eaves of a home, you prevent water from freezing.

Heated roof systems are a slightly less effective means of preventing ice dams then heat cable, only because repairs on heated roof systems are more complicated due to them installed below the roof surface.

4. Improve Roof Insulation

Above we mentioned that three conditions need to happen to cause ice dams: the outside temperature is below 32 degrees F, there has to be snow, and the top of your roof needs to be hotter than 32 degrees F (caused from heat leaking from living area).

If all three conditions are not met, ice dams won’t build up. By improving the insulation of your roof, you can prevent the roof from heating up to temperatures above 32 degrees F. These types of roofs are typically referred to as super insulated or cold roof systems, depending on how they are built

This method tends to be the most expensive because the roof and roof decking need to be removed and reinstalled to reach the insulation.

This can be a permanent solution that doesn’t require an additional power to be used and is great for any new home being built.


Ice dams can cause major problems for homeowners in Park City. Preventing ice dams can prevent roof damage, leak damage, and personal harm.

Ice dams form due to snow melt above your living area that freezes on the eave of a homes roof. With weeks or months of constant freezing and thawing, ice dams can grow to weigh thousands of pounds.

To eliminate ice dam problems, homeowners can install heat cable, install a heated roof system, or improve roof insulation.

Randy Jimenez