Frequently Asked Questions About Roof Ice

An ice dam accompanied by icicles An ice dam is a ridge of ice that causes water to be trapped behind it. This results in water being forced into areas that your roof and gutter system was not designed to handle.

  • Ice dams form at roof edges whether you have gutters or not. Gutters are not the cause of ice dams. Melted snow and below freezing temperatures at the roof edge are the primary cause of ice dams.
  • Ice dams form in valleys (generally near the bottom or exit of the valley) due to snow compression, heavy drifting and obstructions. Valleys concentrate the amount of water present because they collect water from larger areas above them.
  • Ice dams can form anywhere melted snow can refreeze.
  • Icicles usually indicate an ice dam formation has occurred.

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All Gutter Protection or Gutter Covers fall into two basic categories. Those that allow the water to flow through them and filter out the leaf debris and those that require the water to flow over and around a front 'nose' or the surface tension style of gutter guards. 

1) Gutter Screens that allow water to flow through while straining out or filtering the debris thus preventing it from entering the gutter. Some Gutter Guards allow more debris than others to enter the gutter. The gutter guards can be made of steel, aluminum, vinyl, copper, foam, plastic, and other materials. They can be very flimsy or very rigid or anywhere in between. Some even look like over sized pipe cleaners. VersaScreen Pro's heavy construction make it the ideal choice when durability and functionality are important.

2) Gutter Covers that require the flow of water over the top and into the gutter at the front edge through surface tension. These helmets/covers operate on the idea that water will “stick” to the cover and flow around it into the gutter. The leaf debris is separated from the water because it doesn't have the same surface tension. Some of these reverse curve gutter guards also incorporate perforations or screens on the top because of over shooting (the problem of water shooting over the top because of the loss of surface tension). Besides being unsightly, reverse curve gutter covers tend to build up with ice more quickly because of their position above the gutter and thin metal construction. Often those that have chosen this form of protection and have problems with ice dams and icicles have been told to insulate and ventilate as a solution, even when they did not have this problem prior to the installation of the reverse curve product. Efforts to adapt heat cable systems to these can require more energy to achieve similar results to VersaScreen IceBlaster.


The VersaScreen Pro Gutter Protection is made from .040” thick aluminum which is perforated with 1/8” round hole perforations, fabricated and powder coated to a matte black finish. The thickness of the aluminum is 20% thicker than standard .032 aluminum gutters. This makes VersaScreen Pro more durable than typical vinyl or plastic gutter guards and provides for better heat transfer with the IceBlaster option.


Gutter screenStainless steel micro meshes are popular in the gutter protection industry. Its use to keep even the finest debris makes it an attractive choice initially. It can be an effective filter. Some even promote its use for rain water recovery systems. However, like all filters, this mesh can become clogged. Some companies have offered methods to help with this – including brushes on poles, special cleaners, or other methods. Micro mesh also needs to be sufficiently wet to 'siphon' water through. This poses problems with heated versions where the melted run off 'sheets' over the top and drips off. Larger, coarser mesh sizes have been tried. This can lead to different looking products being installed on different parts of the property. VersaScreen IceBlaster avoids these problems with the same appearance for the VersaScreen Pro and IceBlaster. VersaScreen Pro has the perfect perforation size allowing for the appropriate debris to pass through without clogging or overshooting.


Ice Dam CausesUnderstanding Roof Ice Problems, How do Ice Dams Form?, Ice Damming, Roof Ice, Gutter Ice, Ice Dam

  Very simply - snow and heat. Ice dams are formed when snow melt refreezes at the eaves (gutters) and in the valleys. Causes for snow melt can be heat loss from the house, solar radiation (sun's rays) and temperature fluctuations above and below freezing. The cycles of melting and freezing cause a build up or DAM. This dam traps water behind it. The trapped water builds until it finds a way into the house.

Ice dams are not caused by gutters or gutter protection.

Some gutter protection tends to display the ice dam sooner. Reverse curve or 'helmet' style gutter toppers are fabricated from thin metal which cool very quickly. Their placement above the gutter means you see the ice forming earlier. Some attempts have been made to heat these covers, usually with little success. The metal is just too thin to be a good conductor of heat.

    Icicle formations are often associated with ice dams. Some of the dammed water flows over the top of the dam and refreezes as icicles. Ice dams cause property damage and can pose a risk to people as well. Falling icicles (ice weighs @ 60 lbs. per cubic foot) can hit people, cars, lower structures, etc. Leaking water damages drywall, lowers the effectiveness of insulation (making the problem worse), and can lead to rot and mold growth. Repeated ice dam cycles weaken roof structures, loosen gutters, damage shingles, and cause a variety of other problems.



Gutter ice dam preventionThe composition of many types of gutter protection creates a surface on which melt water can refreeze. Because most gutter protection is located on top of or above the gutter, the ice dams become visible sooner, build higher and can cause problems sooner. Ice 'shelves' can be created and, in the worst case, slide off the top of some covers and present dangers to whatever is below. Some gutter protection is sold as a solution to ice dams because clogged gutters can also cause ice dams. If a gutter protection system is not heated, it is not a reliable ice dam prevention system. Products that claim to absorb the sun's heat and melt snow have little ability to do this when covered by snow or situated on a side of the house that receives little or no winter sun. VersaScreen IceBlaster provides true, all season gutter protection.


IceBlaster - VersaScreen Heated Gutter ProtectionNo. To ensure your system is designed properly, safely, and effectively, you must use the commercial grade self regulating heat cables supplied with the system. The team at Edge Melt Systems is dedicated to the ice dam prevention business. VersaScreen Heated Gutter Guard System was designed to work specifically with the commercial grade self regulating heat cables provided. All IceBlaster RE, FE, and Pro products are shipped with the appropriate lengths of SR heat cables, power connection kits, RE and FE extrusions, and other accessories to ensure a successful installation.

Zig zag cables also known as heat tape are not a good option for your roof. Heated Zig Zag roof cables also known as heat tape are not a good option. This technology was one of the few options in the past. Often, the heat that zig zag cables produce is not sufficient to consistently remove snow and ice from your roof and they wear out quickly. Check out this page that demonstrates the common problems associated with zig zag cables and provides a better solution.

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