First, you must identify the cause. Air always moves from high pressure to low (hot to cold), and during the winter, this means your home loses heat. Heat loss occurs in every home but is more pronounced with taller homes; this known as “the stack effect.” Most ice damming issues are caused by heat loss at the connection between the home and attic assembly through various connection points, such as recessed lighting fixtures, thermal by-passes and poor performing insulation.
To fix, you must understand and identify the pathways between the home and attic first, then air seal those areas and either improve or add additional insulation. Some homes have a heating system located in the attic, which is a major cause for snow melt leading to ice dams. For these homes, installing high efficient foam insulation above the furnace is the only way to address ice formation. Remember, it is important to address the CAUSE: Roofing contractors install ice guards and electrical contractors install gutter cables, but these only address the symptoms. General maintenance is also very important - Keep your gutters clean and free of debris to reduce the water from freezing.