The 12 Ways To Prevent Ice Dams On Cathedral Ceilings (It Works!)

Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray

how to prevent ice dams on cathedral ceiling

There is an air of sophistication as you walk into a home fitted with Cathedral ceilings; perhaps it has to do with the architectural design of the ceiling that features sloping sides that are symmetrical and parallel to the roof’s pitch. The appearance can be affected when ice dams drip into the interior and cause damage to the ceiling. I have highlighted The 12 Ways To Prevent Ice Dams On Cathedral Ceilings.

The 12 Ways To Prevent Ice Dams On Cathedral Ceilings Are:

  1. Creation Of An Air Barrier.
  2. Re-insulating Of The Ceiling
  3. Install Ice And Water Ceiling at least six feet
  4. Installation Of An Ice Belt
  5. Target Attic Bypasses
  6. Target Heat Resources In The Roof Space
  7. Check The Roof Ventilation.
  8. Turn Down The Temperature
  9. Ventilation Of Eaves And Ridges
  10. Installation Of Sealed Canned Lights
  11. Create A Flash Around Ceilings
  12. Seal Around Electric Cables & Vent Pipes

Maintain the roof temperature as the eaves will prevent ice dams in a cathedral ceiling. The temperature can be kept consistent by increasing ventilation, adding insulation, and sealing any air leaks that might warm the roof. Let’s explore the 12 Ways To Prevent Ice Dams On Cathedral Ceilings.

Tips To Prevent Ice Dams On Cathedral Ceilings

Although the prevention of ice dams is possible, it is not always a simple process to execute. The appearance of ice dams can ruin the aesthetics of cathedral ceilings, not to mention the significantly associated damages. You can prevent ice dams from damaging the cathedral ceiling.

Creation Of A Barrier

air barrier ceiling

It is best to provide an air barrier between the ventilation channel and the top of the insulation. Instead of installing Proper polystyrene vents, it is advisable to opt for site-built ventilation chutes which can be formed or chalked into place.

You can also spread the joints of HVAC ducts and exhaust ducts with fiber-reinforced mastic. Entirely cover the vents with R-5 or R-6 foiled-faced fiberglass. Try to enlist the services of a knowledgeable insulation contractor, especially one that has worked on cathedral ceilings.  Ensure that all the ducts and dryer vents never lead through the soffit.

Re-insulating Of The Ceiling

The lack of adequate insulation is one of the primary reasons for the formation of ice dams. There is an occurrence most of the time because the roof has not been adequately insulated or sealed. You ideally want to ensure that the ceiling has enough insulation to keep the roof cold.

Although this may be an expensive project, you will adequately get 9 out of 10 years ice dam-free years, saving you money and time in the long run.

Install Ice And Water Ceilings At Least Six Feet 

Building codes specify that drip and water shields need to extend at least 2 feet past an interior wall. Although there is only a requirement of 2 feet, it would be best to engage with a contractor who can cover your entire roof with ice and water shield extending to at least six feet past the interior walls. Ice and water shielding will prevent leaks.

Installation Of An Ice Belt

ice belt ceiling

An ice belt is a cost-effective installation of the existing shingles. The structure of the ice belt will provide a smooth surface that allows the snow and ice to fall off the roof preventing ice dams. It also creates an impenetrable surface so that water cannot flow under the surface.

Target Attic Bypasses

If your attic hatch is unsealed, heat can escape. Hence you will need to cover them with weather-stripped caps made from foiled-faced foam board; this can be held with aluminum tape. You can use a blower door test to find and repair any attic bypasses.

More insulation on the attic floors will also help keep the heat where it belongs. Your local building department will be able to provide you with accurate information on how much insulation your attic will need.

Target Heat Sources In The Roof Space

If there are hot water pipes that run through the attic, they will heat up each time you open the hot water tap. Hence these pipes will have to be heavily insulated or re-routed.

Check The Roof Ventilation

roof ventilation

It is prevalent for heat to get trapped in a cathedral ceiling. Ventilation is essential to let the heat out from under the roof deck. Without ventilation, there will be a build-up of heat, which causes the ice dams.

Turn Down The Temperature

Lowering the temperature might also help prevent ice dams. Try to lower the temperature to 55% when you are away from home and between 65% – and 68% when home.

Ventilation Of Eaves And Ridges

Cold air is circulated under the entire roof by pairing a ridge vent with a soffit vent. These vents must have similar openings and provide 1 square foot of space for every 300 square feet of attic floor. The baffles must be placed at the eaves to create a clear airflow path from the soffit vents.

Installation Of Sealed Can Lights

Replace old, recessed lights with sealed I.C. fixtures. You can cover this with insulation.

Create A Flash Around The Chimney 

Use L-shaped steel flashing with unbroken beads of fire-stop sealant to bridge the gap between the chimney and house framing held in place with intact beads of a fire-stop sealant. 

Seal Around Electric Cables & Vent Pipes

Use a sealant to seal around electrical cables and vent pipes. Also, be on the lookout for spaces where the light shines from below.   It is advisable to check where the dirt stains the insulation from passing air.


Like the common flu, you can never truly cure dam spots on cathedral ceilings; you can, however, prevent them from occurring by taking the necessary precautions. I have highlighted some of these preventative measures above. Implementing these methods will ensure that your cathedral ceiling is kept free from any adverse effects caused by ice dams.

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.