You can look at your roof and see if you have the tell-tale signs of ice dams: ice build-up at the edge of your roof, ice running behind your fascia, or worse, ice running down parts of the siding. When we’re in the midst of winter, a quick deterrent is to remove snow build-up on the roof with a roof rake or shovel. We advise against trying to climb on the roof, as it’s very dangerous with snow and ice on the roof.
If it’s too late for prevention, here’s a list of what not to do:
- Do not hammer off the ice, hack at it with an axe or pick, or use other mechanical means to remove the ice. It’s fast, but it’s also dangerous and likely to cause significant damage to your roof.
- Do not use a blow torch to melt the ice. There’s a high likelihood of damage to the roof, not to mention a chance of injury to the person melting.
- Do not use home remedies like salt wrapped in panty hose or calcium chloride tablets. They are ineffective.
- Do not knock off large icicles; some can weigh more than 50 lbs and cause serious damage to you or your property.
It’s best to hire a professional who uses commercial steam removal equipment. Experts first remove the excess snow, then melt channels in the ice, and finally melt under the ice until the bond with the roofing shingle is broken. Once that happens, the ice can be safely tossed away from the house—without the shingle coming with it. As of March 31, 2017, we have temporarily suspended ice dam service calls requiring immediate action to remove ice dams. However, we will continue to fully service the repair of shingles and roofs due to ice dams.
We hope you can avoid ice dams, but if you can’t we’re here to help, both with the outside ice removal and inside property damage.
How Ice Dams Form
Ice dams are formed when heat from your home escapes upwards and melts the bottom layer of snow on your roof. The melted snow begins to run off of the roof, but freezes before it reaches the ground. The ice builds up and traps the melting snow, which can lead to it pushing up under your shingles and seeping into your roof.
There are many ways that heat can escape your home. It can escape from the small space between rafters and exterior walls, wire or plumbing penetrations, or cracks between the top wall plate and the dry wall. The main cause for heat escaping, however, is inadequate insulation.
If you have had insulation that has been damaged by leaks, you may have an increased risk of ice dams. Insulation that is wet does not work properly. Even after it has dried, it is not as thick, rendering it less effective. The more heat you lose, the more you are at risk of ice dams, which cause leaks and ruin your insulation, which lets more heat escape.