Do Snow Guards Cause Ice Dams?

new england slate slate roof installation

During winter we are often asked, “Do snow guards cause ice dams?” The quick answer is no, snow guards do not cause ice dams. A snow guard, also known as ice guards, snow stops, snow cleats, pad style snow guards, and ice cleats hold snow and ice in place to prevent avalanching or sliding off the roof onto walkways, patios, landscaping below. One of the main reasons for ice dams is that snow and ice melt during the day and then re-freeze before clearing the roof surface at night. Most often ice dams occur on older homes where there isn’t much insulation so the heat escapes and melts the snow on the roof. This water then freezes at the drip edge, causing water to back up and penetrate the building. Modern building practices and proper roof insulation have virtually eliminated this problem in new construction. Older roofs can be retro-fitted with ice and water barrier and/or metal snow pans at the eaves to correct the problem of ice dams. In any case, snow guards are not the reason for ice dams.

We hope you have enjoyed this information. Please email with any comments.

Thank you, Nan

Icicles are the result of ice dams. And to think, as kids,
we used to love to break off the icicles and eat them like a candy cane!

This is an example of a snow pan. You drive around in Vermont and you can see lots of beautiful old homes that have been retro-fitted with copper snow pans. They can look very attractive!

new england slate roof

P. S. Click here to read this informative blog from our friends at Alpine Snow Guards in Morrisville, VT – a historical look at rooftop snow management. There are some great photos – like the one below using rocks. Who knew?!

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