Ice-proof your attic

– and keep winter water out of your home!

If you’re like most people, your attic is probably the last place you tend to spend time. In fact, the vast majority of Canadians only go up to their attics for one of two reasons: “animal intruders” like bats or squirrels, or when water comes in through a leaky roof.

During the winter, however, attics are vulnerable to an even greater and potentially more damaging problem: ice dams. Ice dams are large accumulations of ice that collect on the lip of your roof or in the gutters. Once they’ve set in, ice dams can cause melting snow or rain to back up, and find its way under your shingles – and into your house.

To help you identify and eliminate ice dam dangers from your home, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has a number of tips on how to spot, prevent and remove ice dams from your roof. Attics with the lowest risk of ice dams, for example, are those that are well sealed and insulated. Houses most prone to ice dams:

• Have inadequate insulation or major leakage of warm house air;

• Can have complicated roof shapes, concentrating water drainage into small areas; and

• Often show a “patchy” melt pattern when covered by frost or snow.

The quick fixes for ice dams can range from attaching electric cables to attacking the ice with an axe. But each of these “home remedies” also comes with its own drawbacks, from creating an eyesore or damaging your shingles, to giving yourself an excellent opportunity to slip and fall off a ladder.

However, more effective solutions do exist to help you protect your home and save dollars in expensive roof repairs in the process, including:

• Waterproofing your roof by placing a self-sealing membrane under the shingles;

• Air sealing the attic floor; and

• Insulating thoroughly with the best insulation possible, where necessary.

By spending the time to fix the problem properly the first time, you’ll never have to worry about it again for as long as you live in your home.

For more information or a free copy of the “About Your House” fact sheet Attic Venting, Attic Moisture and Ice Dams and other fact sheets on virtually every facet of owning, maintaining or renovating your home, visit our Web site at or call CMHC at 1 800 668-2642. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is Canada’s national housing agency and a source of objective, reliable housing information.

For story ideas or to access CMHC information, contact CMHC Media Relations – National Office at: (613) 748-2799 or by e-mail:



Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is Canada’s national housing agency. Established as a government-owned corporation in 1946 to address Canada’s post-war housing shortage,

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