Guide to Ice Dam Removal & Prevention

Ice dam removal and prevention are critical aspects of home maintenance, especially during the colder months. Ice dams can cause considerable damage to your roof, leading to roof leaks and costly repairs if not addressed promptly.

While icicles hanging along the eaves of your house may appear beautiful, they can actually signify trouble. This is because the very conditions that promote the formation of icicles – such as snow-covered roofs and freezing temperatures – also contribute to the development of ice dams. These ice dams are thick ridges of solid ice that accumulate along the eaves and can cause damage to roofs.

What Causes Ice Dams on Roofs?

Ice dams form when the roof over the attic gets warm enough to melt the underside layer of snow on the roof. The water trickles down between the layer of snow and the surface of the roof until it reaches the eave of the roof, which stays cold because it extends beyond the side of the house. There, the water re-freezes, forming a growing mound of ice.

This ice dam acts as a barrier, trapping additional water that comes down the roof, causing a pool of water to gather, which can then seep back up under the roof shingles and eventually into your home.

What Does an Ice Dam on a Roof Look Like?

Ice dam removal

So, what does an ice dam look like? Visual cues of ice dams include icicles hanging from the edge of your roof, with or without gutters, and long icicles that extend from the gutters down to the ground.

Another sign is ice or water appearing on the exterior wall or dribbling out of the soffit vents or siding. Inside the house, there might be damp or swollen walls, ceilings, or insulation, and in severe cases, water dripping into the interior. Always remember, early ice dam removal is crucial to prevent damage to your home.

The Risks and Impacts of Ice Dams

Ice dams pose a significant risk to the overall integrity of your home. The trapped water they harbor can leak into your home, leading to multiple types of damage. This can cause the paint to peel or blister, which might seem like merely an appearance issue, but these signs can often indicate far more severe problems.

Structural Damage

One of the prime concerns is the potential for structural damage. The water that seeps underneath can dampen and weaken the roof structure, accelerating rot in the roof decking.

Mold and Mildew

Furthermore, ice dams can also lead to the growth of mold and mildew, both of which can risk your family’s health and are costly to eliminate.

Gutters Tearing Off

In a worst-case scenario, the sheer weight of ice dams may even cause roof gutters to tear off, and the pooling water can leak into your home, causing damage to walls, ceilings, and insulation, plus destroying any possessions in its path.

Ice Dam Removal Techniques

Ice dam removal is necessary to prevent potential damage and costly repairs associated with these icy formations. While its common thought to hack away at ice dams with a hammer or shovel, this can actually be bad for your roof and dangerous for you. Ice dams pose a significant threat to the structural integrity of roofs during cold winter months. Formed when melting snow refreezes at the edge of a roof, they can obstruct proper drainage and lead to water seepage, causing damage to ceilings, walls, and insulation.

Efficient and timely ice dam removal is crucial to prevent potential structural issues and water damage. Below are some correct strategies for how to get rid of ice dams on your roof.

1. Professional Ice Dam Removal

The safest and most effective method of ice dam removal is to hire a professional. Experienced professionals use specialized equipment like high-temperature, low-pressure steam machines to melt the ice without causing any damage to your roof. They have the knowledge and expertise to handle this risky task safely and efficiently.

2. Roof Raking

If you want to try and attempt removal on your own, try using a roof rake to remove snow from your roof. This will help prevent the formation of ice dams. However, it’s important to do this carefully to avoid damaging your shingles. Roof raking is only advisable for single-story homes as it can be dangerous for taller buildings.

3. Ice Melt Products

There are various ice melt products available in the market that can be used for ice dam removal. Calcium chloride is a commonly used ice melt product. However, it’s important to note that while these products can be effective, they may also potentially damage your roof and surrounding vegetation.

Ice Dam Prevention

Preventing ice dams from forming on your roof is a proactive approach that will save you from costly repairs down the line. The key to ice dam prevention lies in maintaining an even roof temperature, which can be achieved by increasing ventilation, adding insulation, and sealing off every possible air leak that might warm the underside of the roof. Here are a few steps on how to prevent ice dams on roofs:

1. Improve Attic Insulation

An attic that is properly insulated helps maintain a consistent temperature in your attic, reducing the likelihood of snow melting and refreezing at the edge of your roof.

2. Increase Roof Ventilation

Add roof and soffit vents to circulate cool air under the entire roof. The cooler it is, the less the snow will melt and form ice dams.

3. Install a Metal Roof

Ice dams are less likely to form on metal roofs, as the snow can slide off the roof before it gets a chance to melt and refreeze.

4. Seal Air Leaks

Air leaks from the house can carry warm air into the attic space, causing uneven roof heating. Sealing these leaks can prevent warm air ingress and eliminate the root cause of ice dams.

5. Install Heat Cable

Heat cables can be installed in a zigzag pattern along the roof edge to create channels for the ice and water to escape.

Remember, while preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of ice dam formation, they cannot completely eliminate it. Regular roof checks and proper maintenance are still a crucial part of ice dam prevention.

Do Ice Dams Always Cause Damage?

In addition to issues concerning the roof, ice dams have the potential to harm your home’s gutters, shingles, and paint.

However, is damage always inevitable with ice dams? Not necessarily. The presence of an ice dam doesn’t guarantee damage; outcomes may vary when the snow and ice eventually melt.

Need Help with an Ice Dam?

Ice dams pose a serious threat to the structural integrity of your home. Immediate and proper ice dam removal is crucial to prevent damage to your roof, walls, insulation, and other parts of your property.

At Jenkins Restorations, we understand how vital it is to address ice dam issues promptly and correctly. We have the knowledge, expertise, and specialized equipment to handle ice dam removal on any scale and complexity, ensuring the safety of your home. If you’re experiencing an issue with ice dams or would like to learn more about preventive measures, please contact us today!

Have You Recently Dealt With A Damage from Ice Dams?

After an ice dam causes damage to your home, make sure to call Jenkins Restorations to get your home – and your life – back to normal again.