Redefining Restoration

Ice Dams: How to Safely Remove and Prevent Them

“Those icicles have been known to kill people!”

Remember that quote from A Christmas Story? It’s one of the many memorable lines from one of the best holiday films of all time, which is most likely playing on some television channel as you read this.

Although young Ralphie had to think fast after he nearly shot his eye out, ice really does pose a number of serious winter threats. In today’s post, we’re focusing on ice dams. Keep reading to find out what they are, and how you can remove and prevent ice dams from forming in your gutters.


Identifying Ice Dams

Ice dams form when melting snow turns into ice at the edge of your roof. Snowmelt may occur on a sunny day, or from heated air in your attic or upper floor. Over time and with enough snowfall, those chunks of ice turn into literal dams by blocking water properly draining. Ice dams can form in gutters. If those gutters get heavy enough they can break, acting as a slide for massive “missiles” of solid ice. Ice dams can also form underneath roof shingles, causing water leaks and other major damage to your home’s interior and exterior.

Removing Ice Dams Safely

Just as it works on your walks and driveway, ice melt can be an effective tool against ice dams, when it’s used the right way. If you discover an ice dam, make sure to use calcium chloride ice melt. Melts made of sodium chloride or other ingredients may damage your roof.

Using a roof rake, first remove a few feet of snow starting at the edge of your roof. Once the ice dam is uncovered, fill old socks or pantyhose with the calcium chloride ice melt, and place across the ice dam. Let the solution slowly melt the ice. It’s also a good idea to cover any decorative landscaping such as plants or bushes if they are directly under the ice dam. Melting calcium chloride may damage shrubbery.

Another thing you can do to stop ice dams from getting bigger is to place box fans in your attic under where ice dams are forming outside. The cooler air created by these fans will freeze water on your roof in mere minutes.

Preventing Ice Dams

Because they form from melting snow, the most effective way to prevent ice dams is to prevent snow from accumulating on your roof. Roof rakes are long devices, which allow you to stay on the ground while pulling snow off the roof. Be sure not to let snow build up over entryways, garages, decks/patios, sidewalks, and driveways.

Adding insulation to the ceilings and floors of your attic can help prevent escaping heat from your home and therefore ice dams, too. Extra insulation has the added bonus of helping lower your utility bills. Another trick is to seal air leaks and insulate HVAC ductwork.

Whether it’s removing them or preventing them, working to remedy ice dams and snow accumulation can be a dangerous job, especially if you have a multiple-story or split-level home, or a steep roof. Do you have a home that may be prone to ice dams? Has an ice dam already caused damage to your home? Contact the pros at Van Rooy today! From roof repairs to renovations and more, we can help protect and restore your home in no time at all.

They may not shoot your eye out, but it never hurts to keep an eye out for ice dams. Happy holidays from Van Rooy Restoration!