Ice Dams: Prevention and Removal

Mar 31, 2021

Ice Dams: Prevention and Removal

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019 by Emma Niemi

Icicles hanging from your eaves may look pretty, but they are a warning sign of ice build-up. This ice build-up is what can result in an ice dam. Severe ice dams can weigh hundreds of pounds and compromise the structure of the roof eaves. More severely, they can cause water to back up and leak into your home. Unfortunately, if you ignore ice dams, they will only cause more severe and expensive damages later on. Keep in mind that ice dams can affect your gutters, insulation and drywall, paint, and other surfaces in your home. 

What Causes Ice Dams?

An ice dam might form when the roof surface temperature is above 32 degrees at its higher-end and below 32 degrees at its lower end. Since heat rises, that heat in your home will rise to your attic and warm the roof surface. Snow on the heated part of the roof melts and flows down until it reaches the part of the roof that is below 32 degrees and then freezes into an ice dam. The dam will grow when it is fed by melting snow above, but the water held by the dam backs up and stays liquid. Eventually, that water will find cracks in the roof covering and flows into the attic, where it can seep through the ceiling and interior walls creating more extreme and expensive problems. 

Ice Dams: Prevention and Removal - Image 1

How to Prevent & Remove Ice Dams

If you already have an ice dam, we recommend not chipping away at it, as this can damage your shingles. One way to safely remove an ice dam is to get rid of the snow on the roof. When we say get rid of the snow, this does not mean climbing on your icy roof! Instead, you can use a tool to remove snow from your roof, such as this one. Look for one that has a protective buffer so that you don’t damage your shingles and one with a telescoping handle that reaches high enough. Again, please don’t climb on top of your roof and put yourself at risk. That is why we recommend the telescoping handle.

Another way that you can safely remove an ice dam is to warm the eaves. Since ice dams originate in roof valleys and eaves, a popular method is to use an electrical cabling system to boost the temperature of the eaves. An electrical cabling system will heat the eaves just enough to prevent an ice dam from forming. 

What we recommend for preventing ice dams is to attack the root cause. That way, you won’t need to deal with ice dams again in the future (or fork out money for the costly damages they can cause when ignored). You can prevent ice dams for good by properly insulating and air sealing your home. This upgrade will pay for itself in fuel and electricity savings. Additionally, you will have a more comfortable and less drafty house.

Through December, we are offering FREE heat map analysis’ and 50% off of installation labor. Give us a call at 1-715-602-1850 to schedule your free heat map analysis and learn more about the different insulation and air sealing options we offer. 


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