If you live in an area with heavy annual snowfall, you've probably seen ice dams. They're those big dams of ice that can form on the edge of your roof. Some people think ice dams look beautiful, but to a roof, they are actually a major threat. The ice can work its way under shingles and pry them off the roof's surface. It's hard to remove an ice dam once it is in place, and doing so may actually cause more damage to the roof. This means you really want to prevent ice dams in the first place. Here are some ways to do that in both the long-term and short-term.
Short-Term: Add Insulation to Your Attic
If your attic is well insulated, less heat will come out through the ridge of your roof, and the snow up there won't melt. You can usually add an extra layer of insulation to your attic by simply unrolling some fiberglass batts on top of the existing insulation.
Short-Term: Have Your Gutters Cleaned
Have a roofing contractor or gutter company come clean your gutters before winter falls. This way, any snow that does melt is more likely to properly drain off the roof rather than accumulate on the edge. If your gutters clog often, you may want to have gutter guards installed to keep leaves from accumulating inside of them.
Long-Term: Have vents added to your roof
Having vents added to your roof will help ensure the heat has another place to go, rather than escaping through the roof itself. Your roofer may want to add a ridge vent, or they may prefer to add some soffit vents, depending on the layout of your roof. The best time to do this is generally when you're having the roof replaced, which is why it's a long-term approach.
Long-Term: Choose metal roofing
Metal roofing is more slippery than other roofing materials. As such, snow is likely to slide right off of it, which means ice dams won't form. Most people wait until they need to replace their roof anyways to replace it with metal. While metal may cost more than other roofing materials, it does have a long lifespan and can help save you money on energy, too.
Ice dams are a real concern in snowy areas. Watch out for them on your own roof, and take some long and short-term steps to keep them at bay. Talk to a local roofing company to learn more.