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  • Writer's picturejoseph retcho

What Is An Ice Dam??

Updated: May 12, 2023


Even your best attempts to prevent an ice dam may not always be enough. Knowing what an ice dam is, how to detect one, and how to help remove one is critical for preserving your roof and house during the snowy winter months.

What Exactly Is an Ice Dam?

Ice dams occur when water from melting snow freezes into ice at the edge of your roofing. Without effective roof snow removal, the ice that forms may become large enough to prevent water from melting snow from draining off the roof efficiently. When water is unable to drain from the roof, it may back up beneath the shingles and into your home.

Do you have an ice dam?

Most ice dams occur on the edge of your roof, but they can form elsewhere depending on your roof's slope, direction, and shape. Keep an eye on the weather and your roof for any signs of ice dam building.

  • Examine the icicles surrounding the outside of your home. If the icicles are confined to the gutters and no water is trapped behind them, an ice dam is unlikely to have formed. On the other hand, Icicles can be a forerunner to ice dams. Icicles, depending on their size and location, might also be dangerous if they come off. Remove icicles from the exterior of your property whenever possible and if it is safe to do taking care not to stand directly beneath them. If you cannot securely remove the icicles from the ground, consider contacting a contractor to help you.

  • Look for water stains or dampness in your attic or along the ceilings of your house's exterior walls. Water stains or dampness may indicate the formation of an ice dam and the penetration of water through the roof membrane.

How to Get Rid of an Ice Dam

Removing an ice dam from your roof as soon as you see the indicators can help prevent damage to your home. One method for removing an ice dam is to use calcium chloride ice melt.

Step 1: Remove snow 3-4 feet from the edge of your roof with a roof rake, being cautious not to damage the roof covering or allow snow to accumulate over pedestrian paths or emergency exits.

Step 2: Use a calcium chloride ice melt product, which is available at most hardware stores. Avoid using rock salt or sodium chloride, which can damage your roof.

Step 3: Fill a nylon stocking halfway with calcium chloride ice melt.

Step 4: Position the calcium chloride-filled nylon stocking vertically across the ice dam to melt a channel through the ice.

Step 5: Cover and protect any shrubbery and plants near the gutters or downspouts with lightweight tarps for the period that the calcium chloride stockings are in place. This is significant because the calcium chloride-saturated water pouring from the roof has the potential to harm the shrubs and plants.

REMEMBER: Using a ladder in snowy or icy circumstances is risky. Consider contacting a professional if you cannot securely reach the roof.

Need help? Contact us and get your home insurance coverage quote.

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