Are Ice and Water Shields Worth It?

Many Indiana homeowners are haunted by the words “ice dam.” Perhaps, they’ve paid for the damage an ice dam has caused or heard horror stories from their neighbors.

If you are one of the lucky few that aren’t familiar, ice dams are created when rapidly melting snow from a warm rooftop reaches the much colder eaves and gutters where it freezes and creates a dam.

Typically, ice dams signify a poorly insulated or unsealed attic that allows heat from inside to melt snow quicker than it can be drained from the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam eventually seeps under the shingles causing wood rot, leaks, mold and mildew, and soaked insulation.


Preventing Ice Dams

There are a few steps you can take before considering installing ice and water protection on your roof.

  • Seal all attic leaks. It seems like a simple solution to combat a hot roof, but many attic leaks are hard to find and difficult to plug. Sealing an entire attic is a time-consuming process that may help prevent ice dams.
  • Add insulation. Most homes should have 12-14 inches of cellulose or fiberglass insulation. You may need to add more layers or cover neglected, hard to reach areas in your attic.
  • Ventilate your attic. Adequate ventilation allows hot air to escape and cold air to enter, naturally cooling your roof.

All of these strategies for preventing ice dams require an investment of time and money. Even in combination, they may not completely eradicate ice dams. In some cases, it is very difficult to keep a roof cool enough to do so.


What are ice and water shields?

An ice and water shield is a high-density rubber membrane underlayment placed beneath the shingles of a roof along the length of the eaves. This 36 inch (from eave to peak) waterproof seal does NOT prevent ice dams. It does, however, prevent water from seeping under your shingles and onto your roof deck.


Are ice and water shields worth it?

Because they cannot be installed retroactively (without ripping up shingles) your roofing professional will ask you if you want to install an ice and water shield before the installation or repair of your roof.

Though it may be presented as an unnecessary add-on, an ice and water shield can save you tons on home repair or total roof replacement in the future even if it costs you more up front. Especially if you live in a home with a history of ice dams or ongoing winter leaks, an ice and water shield is a wise investment.

For most homes in Indiana, where the winters are long and snowy, an ice and water shield is an important part of making sure your roof and your home last for years to come.