If you don’t know what an ice dam is, keep reading. I’m going to tell you what they are, give you some easy steps to help you with ice dam removal and also give you some tips on how to prevent them from coming back.
A lot of people love the look of icicles on their homes. And it is very common to see icicles on house after house as you drive down the street. But what many people don’t realize is that underneath those icicles could lie a problem that is destroying your roof.
What is an Ice Dam?
An ice dam is a formation of ice on your roof. It usually forms near the edge the roof near the gutter. Snow and water/ice can build up behind the ice wall on the roof. See the picture on the left, where you can see what an ice dam is .
What Causes Ice Dams
Ice dams are formed due to differences in temperatures between the upper and lower portions of the roof. It has to be warm enough at the higher part of the roof so that snow on the roof starts to melt. But it has to be cool enough at the bottom of the roof so that none of the snow there melts. This condition can occur when heat from the house escapes through the attic, causing the snow to melt. As you can see from the picture above, many houses have an overhang with a gutter on it. This overhang isn’t close enough to the the house to be warmed by the heat inside, so it remains frozen. As the water from above melts, it trickles down and is stopped by the frozen ice and snow below, where it can freeze again.
This build-up of ice traps melted water and causes it to pool up on the shingles. From there, water can seep between the cracks in the shingles and work its way down into the house. There it can cause damage to ceilings, walls, and insulation.
Ice Dam Removal
One of the best ways to tell if you have an ice dam is to look for icicles hanging from your house. Another clue that you might have an ice dam is if most of the snow on your roof has melted while other houses still have snow on their roofs. This is a clue that you might be losing a lot of heat from your house.
The best way to deal with ice dams that have already formed is to make channels in in the ice dams so that water can flow through them. The main thing you want to do is make sure water doesn’t sit on your roof. This is only a temporary solution, however, because as water flows through the channels, it will tend to re-freeze and plug the channels up again.
Ice Dam Prevention
The first thing you can do to prevent ice dams is to put better insulation in your attic and seal up any leaks. If you can prevent warm air from escaping from your house, the ice dams won’t form. You should be able to find a contractor in your area that can help you out with this step if that is the way you choose to go.
The second thing you can do is remove the snow from your roof. The key here is to get the snow off your roof before it has a chance to melt. There is a tool out there called a roof rake that makes snow removal from your roof really easy. My favorite version of the roof rake is the Avalanche Roof Rake. I use it every winter and it always does the job for me.
What I don’t suggest you do is get on the roof yourself and try to shovel the snow off. That is just too dangerous.