Do you live in an area that gets significant snow and ice in the winter? If so, then one of the biggest threats your home could face in the winter is the formation of an ice dam. An ice dam is an accumulation of snow and ice along the eave of a roof. When snow hits your roof, heat from inside the attic causes the snow to melt. The snow then slides down your roof to the eave. However, since the eave doesn't cover the attic, it isn't exposed to warm air. The snow then freezes along the eave, forming a dam of ice that blocks water from draining into the gutters. Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent this from happening. Here are three ways that you can prevent ice dams this winter:

Clear your gutters and downspouts. Often, ice dams start in the gutters, slowing down water as it drains off the roof. That gives water more time to sit on the eave and freeze. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are cleaned out before winter comes. Also, keep the drainage area around the downspout clear. You don't want water to back up into your downspout and freeze because of excess leaves and other debris. Keep your gutters clean so water flows freely off of your roof.

Insulate your attic. One of the biggest causes of ice dams is the fact that hot air is escaping your attic. That hot air is causing the snow to melt even while there are still freezing temperatures outside. You can prevent this by keeping more of your hot air in your attic and in your home. Have an insulation company come out and inspect your attic. They can line the inside of the roof with insulation and prevent hot air from escaping.

Install ridge and soffit vents. Finally, you can also prevent ice dams by creating a cool air flow through your roof. That will prevent the snow from melting until the temperatures outside actually rise enough for the snow to melt naturally. The best way to do this is by installing vents at the ridge of your roof and at the soffit. The soffit is the area of the roof underneath the overhang along the side of your house. Cool air will enter through those vents and circulate underneath your roof's surface.

For more information, contact a roof repair service (such as Greenbrier Roofing) in your area. They can inspect your roof and install vents or recommend any other needed improvements.