How to Prevent Ice Buildup on Metal Roof

How to Prevent Ice Buildup on Metal Roof

5 min read

The winter season is characterized by low temperatures, heavy snowstorms, and ice buildup, especially on the metal roof. Most homeowners usually worry about the unsightly and dangerous ice buildup on their metal roof that could cause serious damage to the roof and gutters.

Ice buildup on a metal roof usually forms when heat from inside the house rises into the attic space, reaching the apex of the roof. It then warms the top of the roof, causing the accumulated snow to melt. The melted snow then turns into water and starts running down the roof surface.

When the water reaches the colder edges of the metal roof, it refreezes, forming an ice buildup.

Fortunately, ice buildup on your metal roof can be prevented by:

  1. Sealing all air leaks
  2. Using heated cables
  3. Using a box fan to blow cold air on the roof
  4. Remove the snow before it freezes
  5. Using an ice melter to create a channel for the ice
  6. Install a metal roof that sheds snow
  7. Apply two rows of ice and a water shield 
  8. Install waterproof flashing
  9. Place moisture and ice barriers under the shingle
  10. Add thicker insulation on the attics
  11. Ensure that the ducts and vents don’t pass through the attics
  12. Hire a professional to remove the ice buildup

Here’s everything you need to know:

 

1. Seal all air leaks

One of the most effective ways of preventing ice buildup on your metal roof is by identifying and sealing all pathways where warm air rises inside.

This will help prevent your metal roof from being warm, meaning that the accumulated snow will not melt and refreeze later when it moves down the roof to form an ice buildup. Call a room expert to help you identify and properly insulate all leaks that lead into the attic space.

 

2. Use heated cables

Another effective way to preventing ice buildup on your metal roof is by installing heated cables on the metal roof. Heated cables are usually attached along the roof’s edge in a zigzag pattern to help prevent ice buildup on the roof’s see.

The heated cable help to prevent the melted ice that flows down the roof from refreezing, resulting in ice buildup. The fact that heated cables heat your roof from the outside also prevents warm air from inside your house from rising into the attic space, reaching the apex of the roof.

If you are planning to use this technique to prevent ice buildup, ensure that you install the heated cables before the winter season sets in.

 

3. Use a box fan to blow cold air on the roof

As pointed out before, the reason why there is an ice buildup on your metal roof because warm air from inside the house finds its way up the apex, thus warming the metal roof. Use the box fan to blow cold air at any leak spots in the roof to prevent ice buildup on your metal roof.

 

4. Remove the snow before it freezes

Another great way to prevent snow build-up is removing the snow before it turns to water then refreezes back into ice. A long-handled aluminum roof rack, preferably one with wheels can help make this process simple.

Use the rake to pull snow towards the edge of your metal roof to prevent damaging the shingles. Conduct this process at least once per day to keep your metal roof clear of ice buildup.

 

5. Use an ice melter to create a channel for the ice

Placing ice melters at strategic places on your metal roof will help to prevent ice buildup. Use a long product that is resistant to climatic conditions, such as your old pair of pantyhose to create ice metal channels.

Fill the pantyhose with a suitable ice melter such as calcium chloride, then place them strategically on various locations on the egged of your metal roof. For more effective results, experts recommend that you place the ice channels perpendicularly to the flow of ice to allow the ice melter to melt the snow fast.

Create multiple channels to speed up the drainage process. Calcium chloride can easily be obtained at your local hardware store. When using calcium chloride as an ice melter, don’t place it directly over your metal roof to prevent corrosion.

 

6. Install a metal roof that sheds snow

Another great way of preventing ice buildup on your metal roof is installing a metal roof that naturally prevents ice buildup. Thanks to advance in technology, today there are metal roofs that naturally repels snow, thus preventing ice from accumulating on the roof.

They have a special coating designed to shed ice and snow before they get a chance to build into an ice dam. This option is highly recommended for people who are building a new house or are planning to renovate their old metal roof.

 

7. Apply two rows of ice and water shield

Another great way to prevent ice build on your metal roof is by applying two rows of ice and water shield, popularly known as peel and stick membrane along the valleys and eaves.

Some neighborhoods require home homeowners to use this technique when installing a new roof because it is very effective in preventing ice buildup on the roof.

 

8. Install waterproof flashing

Chimneys are a common source of leaks that could result in ice buildup on your metal roof. Heat can escape through tiny holes and crevices on the chimney that could result in warm air finding its way into the roof, causing ice buildup.

The best way to prevent this is by installing flashing on your leaking chimney. Install an L-shaped steel flashing that fits perfectly against the roof and chimney. If you had installed flashing in the past but it has started to leak, remove it then install new waterproof flashings.

Use a fire-resistant sealant to hold the new waterproof flashing in place.

 

9. Place moisture and ice barriers under the shingle

Placing moisture and ice barriers under shingles is a great way to prevent ice buildup on your metal roof. This barrier is similar to a membrane, and it helps to waterproof the shingles, thus preventing water and ice leakage. Once you install the barrier, place new shingles on top of it.

This method is quite expensive but very effective in preventing ice buildup on your metal roofing.

 

10. Add thicker insulation on the attics

Attics need thicker insulation of about 14 inches thick to prevent your metal roofing from getting warm. So, if you had already installed insulation on the attics, but there is still ice buildup on your metal roof, chances are that insulation is thin.

To prevent your roof from getting warm, install thicker insulation (at least 14 inches thick).

 

11. Ensure that the ducts and vents don’t pass through the attics

If the ducts and vents are passing through the attics, the chances of ice buildup on your metal roof are high. Remember that ducts and vents usually carry hot air that could warm the attics, thus creating the perfect condition for ice buildup on the roof.

So, if your ducts are passing through the attics, reroute them. For instance, you can pass them directly through the wall.

 

12. Hire a professional to remove the ice build-up

Hiring a professional to remove ice buildup on your metal room is also a good option, especially if it is an emergency. If you notice there is a sudden increase in ice buildup on your metal roof that could damage the roof, the best option is to call an expert right away to remove the ice buildup.

Professionals have special tools that scrape ice buildup on your metal roof fast and efficiently. They can also install things like an ice melter to prevent ice buildup in the future.

Victoria Miller

I'm the founder of NTT. I live in Miami, Florida, and enjoy learning everything there is to know about tiny spaces.