Tips for How to Prevent Ice Dams on Flat Roofs in Winnipeg, Manitoba

Have you ever confronted problems with ice dams on your low-sloped roof, especially during Winnipeg’s harsh winters? This common issue can lead to significant damage if not properly managed.


Ice dams form as large masses of ice at the lower edge of roofs or in gutters. They occur when melting snow, or sometimes rain, runs down the roof and meets this ice, backing up under the shingles and possibly into the attic or house. This is especially problematic with significant snow accumulation​​.

This article explains how ice dams form. It discusses why low-sloped roofs are at risk. You will learn how to prevent these ice dams. The focus is on simple, effective methods for Roof Leak Repair Winnipeg. These include improving insulation and ventilation. Proper attic maintenance is also key. These steps help keep your roof safe during Winnipeg’s cold winters.

What are Ice Dams?

Understanding ice dams on low-sloped roofs requires knowing how they form and the conditions that lead to their formation. Ice dams occur when water is dammed behind an ice accumulation along roof eaves or valleys. Heat loss from a building warms the roof deck, melting snow. This melted snow refreezes at the eaves, where there’s no heat loss, creating an ice dam​​.

Key factors for ice dam formation include:

Proper attic insulation prevents ice dams, especially in cold areas like Winnipeg. Insulation minimizes heat loss from inside the home to the attic in winter. Building codes often require specific insulation R-values based on geographic location. Insufficient insulation or air leaks can let heat escape quickly into the attic, warming the roof sheathing​​.

Another critical aspect is adequate attic ventilation. Without sufficient ventilation, warm air inside the structure becomes trapped in the attic, warming the underside of the roof sheathing. Ventilation requirements in building codes usually specify a minimum net-free area for airflow based on the attic size. For instance, a 1500-square-foot attic space may require a minimum of 10 square feet of net-free ventilation​​.

Furthermore, sealing air leaks is essential. Common leak locations include pull-down attic stairs and around ceiling light fixtures. Sealing these penetrations and insulating areas such as recessed light fixtures, electrical, plumbing, or HVAC penetrations, and attic access doors help prevent warm air from escaping into the attic.

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Characteristics of Low-Sloped Roofs

Low-sloped roofs have unique features that make them susceptible to ice dam formation. They are common on low-sloped roofs due to specific conditions.

Features of Low-Sloped Roofs:

Why They Are Susceptible:

The Impact of Ice Dams on Low-Sloped Roofs

Ice dams on low-sloped roofs are a major concern, especially in Winnipeg’s cold winters. They can lead to several issues:

Roof leaks and structural damage are common problems caused by ice dams. They stop water from draining off the roof properly. This leads to leaks which can damage walls, ceilings, and the contents of a building. The structure of the roofing system might also get weaker. Too much snow, water, and ice can even make roofs collapse.

The main reasons for ice dams are poor ventilation and insufficient insulation in the attic. Warm air from the attic melts the snow on the roof. This melted snow freezes again at the colder edges of the roof, forming ice dams. These can get thick, sometimes over 4-5 inches. They grow bigger as more snow melts and refreezes under the roof shingles. This leads to leaks and can damage the inside of the house.

Using asphalt shingles on low-sloped roofs is a common mistake. Many homeowners don’t realize the issues it can cause. They might not check the details before hiring a roofing contractor. Some contractors might not inform their clients about the problems with this choice.

Installing asphalt shingles on a roof with a pitch of less than 3 goes against the guidelines set by shingle manufacturers. All manufacturers need a minimum pitch of 3 for their asphalt shingles. This guideline can void the roof’s warranty if it is not followed. This is important information for homeowners to know when planning roofing work.

Another issue is mold growth. Constant leaks from ice dams can create mold in the attic. Mold is bad for health, causing or making worse illnesses like allergies and asthma.

Ice dams can also hurt your insulation. They make it less effective, leading to heat escaping from your house. This means higher heating bills and a higher chance of more ice dams forming.

Gutters and downspouts can also be damaged by ice dams. The weight and pressure of the ice can make them come loose or pull away from the roof.

Don’t wait for small issues to become big problems. Schedule your Winnipeg roof inspection with Kenava Roofing to ensure your roof’s safety.

Prevention Strategies

To stop ice dams on low-sloped roofs, especially in Winnipeg’s climate, follow these steps:

  1. Snow Removal: It’s important to clear snow off the roof. This helps avoid ice dams. For safety, have experts do this.
  2. Insulating the Attic: Good attic insulation is key. It stops heat from escaping. This keeps snow from melting and freezing again. Insulation should be at least R-40 value. Blown-in types like cellulose or fiberglass are best. They fill spaces well, leaving fewer open areas.
  3. Venting the Roof: A well-vented roof is essential. It keeps the attic and roof cool by letting out warm air. Vents should be about one square foot per 300 square feet of ceiling. Place vents at both the roof’s peak and its edges.
  4. Checking Eavestroughs: Regular checks of Eavestroughs are vital. Make sure they’re angled right for water to flow off when snow melts. Clogged eavestroughs can cause ice dams.
  5. Sealing Attic Leaks: Air leaks in the attic lead to ice dams. Seal all gaps around lights, pipes, and chimneys. This reduces heat loss and saves energy.
  6. Ice Dam Prevention Products: In tough cases, use special products for roof leak repair Winnipeg. For instance, an ice-and-water barrier on the roof helps. This underlayment sticks to the roof and is covered with shingles. It’s a building code requirement in many cold areas.
  7. Raking Snow: After a lot of snow, use a snow rake. It stops snow from melting into ice dams. Be gentle to avoid damaging the shingles.


You can prevent ice dams by regularly maintaining your roof, insulating, and ventilating properly. This saves on costly repairs and keeps your roof in good shape in Winnipeg’s winter.

Heat Cables Are not a Solution to Ice Dam Issues

Homeowners often use heated electric cables for ice dams on low-sloped roofs. Many think these cables are a solution. However, this is not true. Ice dams form due to warm air leaking from your home and poor ventilation. Heat cables use electricity to melt ice. This means you’re adding energy to an existing heat problem. It’s like using a temporary fix that doesn’t work. Plus, it costs more in energy bills. The problem stays or gets worse.


Heat cables melt ice at the eaves. But ice dams still form higher up the roof. This causes leaks in new areas. It damages more insulation and makes things worse. So, heat cables are not the best fix for ice dams on low-sloped roofs.

Metal Roofing Winnipeg: A Preventive Measure

In Winnipeg, where winter conditions can be harsh, preventing ice dams on low-sloped roofs is crucial. Metal Roofing Winnipeg offers several advantages compared to other roofing materials.

Advantages of Metal Roofing for Ice Dam Prevention

Comparison with Other Roofing Materials

Role of Ventilation for Managing Ice Dams on Low-Sloped Roofs

Ice dams on roofs are a common problem in cold climates. In Winnipeg, this issue often arises on low-sloped roofs. To tackle this, understanding attic insulation and ventilation is key. Proper attic insulation helps keep warm air from escaping into the attic. But some warm air will still find its way up there. This is where a good ventilation system becomes crucial.

A well-designed ventilation system removes warm air from the attic. It helps maintain a temperature similar to the outside. This prevents snow on the roof from melting and forming ice dams. The most effective system used today is the Soffit/Ridge vent system. It’s ideal for new constructions. However, older homes might have different designs, like gable vents. These are not as efficient but can still be helpful.

In some cases, adding ventilation is challenging for financial or structural reasons. For instance, homes with insulation stuffed between roof rafters without baffles face this issue. Air cannot circulate in such designs. Fixing this can be expensive; not all homeowners are ready for such an investment.

Different roof types also pose unique challenges. Hip and low-slope roofs often don’t support effective ventilation like ridge/soffit or gable vents. Alternatives like static box vents or power vents are used in such cases. They are not as efficient but provide some relief. For low-slope roofs, builders must address ventilation and leakage issues. Unfortunately, some avoid installing vents on these roofs to prevent leaks.

Low-slope roofs are more prone to ice dams. They often use materials like EPDM rubber or modified bitumen, which are glued or cemented. These materials can develop leaks over time, worsened by ice dams. The constant freeze-thaw cycle can widen gaps between seams.

Finally, using asphalt shingles on low-slope roofs is a mistake. It goes against manufacturers’ guidelines and voids warranties. Low-slope roofs need a pitch of at least 3 for shingle installation, but many are built with less. Homeowners and contractors must be aware of this to prevent future problems.

How to Prevent Ice Dams on

Professional Help and Services

It is in the best interest of residents to seek professional help for Winnipeg Roof Inspection, especially in avoiding ice dams. Roofing experts offer vital services for maintaining roofs in good condition. They know the needs of local weather. This includes heavy snow and extreme cold that can result in ice dams.


Choosing the right materials is key. Winnipeg roofers advise on the best options for your home. This includes considering aesthetics, weather, and budget. They know materials like asphalt shingles, metal roofing, and cedar shakes.


Local knowledge is an advantage in Roof Leak Repair Winnipeg. Winnipeg has difficult winter challenges, which professional roofers understand. Kenava Roofing Company provides work guarantees that ensure any problems are addressed promptly. Safety is another concern for your DIY roof fixes. Professionals have the right training and equipment because roofing is risky. They are safe on low-sloped roofs and avoid the hazards of do-it-yourself fixes.


Employing skilled roofers like Kenava Roofing in Winnipeg takes less time and money. They help avoid expensive blunders. Selecting a trusted Winnipeg roofing company helps strengthen your roof against harsh conditions. From new roofs to repairs and inspections, these professionals are the key to safeguarding your home and keeping you comfortable every season.


Therefore, professional services provide trustworthiness, protection, and professionalism for such affordable roofing Winnipeg, metal roofing installation, and are reliable agencies for roof leak repair or a Winnipeg roof inspection. This method is crucial to the successful control and prevention of ice dams.


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Final Words

Keeping homes in Winnipeg safe from ice dams is important. This article has shared key ways to do this. One of the main ways is to keep snow off your roof. Doing this can stop ice dams from forming. Making sure your attic has enough insulation is also important. It keeps heat inside your house. This stops snow on your roof from melting and freezing again.

Another important thing is to have good ventilation in your roof. This keeps the temperature even in your attic and on your roof. It helps stop ice dams. The article also talked about how important it is to have eavestroughs that are set up right. They should be tilted so water can drain off when snow melts. This lowers the chance of ice dams.

The article also said that having the right things to protect your water and gutters is key. This helps stop ice dams from forming. Ice dams often happen because of changing temperatures and insufficient insulation in the attic. These can cause much damage if they’re not taken care of.

This advice is really important for people living in Winnipeg, especially in older houses. It’s good to always be ready with these steps to keep your home safe. In short, dealing with ice dams on low-sloped roofs is not just a one-time thing. It’s part of looking after your home. By using these tips, people in Winnipeg can feel more secure during the cold months. Their homes will be safer and in better shape.

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