Ice Dam Removal – Tips, Tools, & Prevention

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Ice Dam Removal – Tips, Tools, & Prevention

Posted by All Metro Service Companies LLC
3 years ago | January 19, 2021

Preventing and treating damage over the winter is important – especially when it comes to ice dam removal. Left untreated, ice dams can loosen shingles, damage gutters (in extreme cases it can tear them off), and cause water damage to your home. Too much water damage can turn into mold! Larger ice dams that form icicles are a safety hazard that needs to be properly cared for. By taking care of your problem, you can save thousands of dollars in costly roof repair and replacement costs.

What is an Ice Dam & How Does it Occur?

An ice dam is a section of ice near the eaves of your roof and prevents melting snow from draining off the roof. This is usually caused by poor insulation to your roof. When the warm air from your home rises into the entire roof except for the eaves. Snow will melt on the warm roof and freeze at the eaves. Over time, ice accumulates along the eaves forming a dam. As a property owner, you’ll notice icicles that begin to form off of your roofline.

Typically, an ice dam forms when three things happen simultaneously:

  1. Snow coverage occurs on your roof
  2. Heat loss from your house or attic space cause the roof to warm and the eaves to remain cold
  3. Ideal outside temperatures that cause freezing and melting form an ice dam 
Cross Section of house roof with an ice dam

Illustration from the University of Minnesota Extension Services

How to Prevent Ice Dams

To make sure you never have ice dams again, you need to make sure that the temperature of your roof is the same temperature as the eaves. This might require increasing attic ventilation, adding insulation, and sealing air leaks. Ideally, finding the source of the problem and fixing it would be a long-term solution!

Ice Dam Removal Tips and Tools

If hiring a contractor to permanently fix this issue isn’t in your budget, then these ice dam removal tips are for you! We have some great tips and tricks to help you temporarily deal with ice dam removal throughout the winter.

Manual Removal
  • Roof raking – used to remove the snow off of your roof. Removing the snow can also help change the temperature of your roof so that ice dams can’t form as easily. Remember to do this carefully because doing this wrong can potentially damage your roof or shingles.
  • Hot water hose – attaching a hose to an indoor faucet and running water along the roofline to melt the ice dams. Although this is a quick solution, it requires a ladder, a long hose, and extra care.
Chemical Removal
  • Roof tablets – ice melt tablets that can be thrown on your roof to help melt the ice dams. 
  • Ice melt socks – these can be purchased or you can also fill a pantyhose with ice melt. Place them every 5-8 feet along the roofline perpendicular to the roof. This will create a channel for the water to flow down the roof.
Temperature Removal
  • Heated cables – Ideally, this needs to be done before the snow comes. Heated cables can be installed in a zig-zag pattern to help melt ice dams when they form.
  • Cold air – placing a box fan near the roofline inside can help decrease the temperature of the roof and prevent ice dams.
Methods to Avoid
  • Hitting ice dams with a hammer, axes, blowtorches, or other tools – this can damage our roof and is a hazard waiting to happen.
  • Anything that you feel is unsafe or might damage your roof. If you’re not sure, call an expert!
Ice Dam Removal not for You – Hire it Out!

Ice dam formation on your property can be a safety hazard and hard to remove. If your not sure about raking your roof while you’re on a ladder or climbing on your roof in the middle of winter to throw an ice melt sock up there, it’s probably safe to say that calling an expert is the right decision for you. 

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