I’ve warned about ice dams many times. It’s one of the leading causing of major damage to old homes. But, the problem doesn’t start on your roof. It starts from inside your home from leaking hot air.

If you have icicles hanging from your eaves, you need to take action now.  Those frozen daggers are a sign that you’ve got ice dams.  The ice dam enables the trapped water to get under the roof shingles, causing water to leak inside.

Here’s five tips from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for preventing ice dams and saving you thousands in repairs.

· Seal air leaks: Seal air leaks and duct air leaks in your attic to stop warm air leakage, the source of ice dam problems.

· Add insulation: After sealing leaks, add additional insulation in your attic.

· Check ventilation: Provide adequate attic ventilation so the underside of the roof and outside air are at the same temperature. Check to make sure attic insulation is not blocking roof ventilation. Incorrect ventilation can also cause additional problems, such as mold and mildew.

· Clean gutters: Clean leaves and other debris from gutters before the first snow. This will help prevent ice build-up in gutters.

· Hire an accredited contractor: Hire a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR contractor accredited through the Building Performance Institute (BPI) or approved by your local energy program to conduct an in-home comprehensive energy assessment. The comprehensive assessment will not only identify specific home improvements to prevent future ice dams, but will also recommend ways to reduce energy use, save money and improve the health and safety of your home. 

Matt Grocoff, Esq. LEED is founder of Thrive - Net Zero Consulting Collaborative, host of Greenovation.TV, a contributor to The Environment Report on Public Radio, the green renovation expert for Old House Web, and a sought after lecturer. His home is America’s oldest net-zero energy home and was called “Sustainable Perfection” by The Atlantic, honored as one of USA Today’s “Seven Best Green Homes of 2010″ and Preservation Project of the Year.  He has been featured in hundreds of publications and news shows including Washington Post, Detroit Free Press, Preservation Magazine, Solar Today, Fox Business News, Huffington Post and more.  Join him on Google+, Twitter and Facebook