How to Get Rid of Ice Dams

Icicles hanging from the edge of your roof may be pretty, but they can also cause damage – tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and even cause water to back up and leak into your house.

Below are some ways to prevent ice dams, as well as some quick fixes for removing ice dams from your roof.

The best way to avoid ice from ever building up along the eaves is to use heated cables.  These cables are attached with clips to the roof’s edge in a zigzag pattern and prevent snow from accumulating and forming into ice.

If ice has already built up along your eaves and you’re wondering how to fix it, here are some quick tips to remove the ice dams fast.

  • Broom or Rake It
    If you live in a one-story home, you can take a broom or rake while standing safely on the ground and pull the snow from above the dam off of the roof. This will not eliminate the ice buildup, but it will reduce the amount of excess snow that will eventually turn into more ice.  It may also reduce the amount of time it will take for warmer temperatures to melt through the ice that is there.  NOTE: Brooming or raking the snow off the edge of your roof is best done immediately after a heavy snowfall, before any snow has a chance to freeze.
  • Blow Cold Air from within the Attic
    If you’re experiencing leaking through the roof, then using a box fan in your attic can provide an immediate, albeit temporary, fix. Place the fan in the direction of where the ice is forming on your roof. The cold air from the fan will cause the water to freeze quickly.
  • Use Calcium Chloride in a Pantyhose or Tube Sock
    You can use some old pantyhose or a tube sock filled with calcium chloride (found at your local hardware store) to melt through the snow.  Just lay the sock vertically on the roof where the ice has formed and eventually the snow and ice will melt and flow into your gutters or off your roof.  NOTE:  Make sure the ice-melt salt product you use contains only calcium chloride, which is safe for shingles and vegetation.
  • Improve Insulation
    You may have insufficient insulation in your attic, which is causing heat to escape.  By placing more insulation on the attic floor, you’ll keep the heat where it belongs – inside your home.
  • Blocking Heat Sources
    There may be a heat source from inside the house that is contributing to high temperatures in the attic.  If you can easily identify an obvious leak, try to block the escape of heat using expanding foam or caulking to prevent the warm airflow from escaping into the attic.

There could still be other factors contributing to the ice formations on your roof that are a bit more complex to diagnose and/or fix, such as poor attic ventilation which can prevent colder outside air from circulating properly within your attic space; or the more sneaky, hidden air leaks around HVAC ducts or vent pipes that may be causing warm air from inside the home to warm the underside of your roof.

If you would like River Valley Restoration to investigate and offer viable solutions, please call us at 740-785-5000 for a free inspection and estimate.

What you don’t want to do:

  • DON’T TRY TO HACK AWAY AT THE ICE DAMS with a hammer or a shovel.  You may hurt yourself and you may damage the integrity of your roof’s shingles.
  • DON’T THROW ROCK SALT ON YOUR ROOF.  Rock salt (sodium chloride) is not good for your shingles and it’s not good for your plants and landscaping below.
  • DON’T GO ON YOUR ROOF.  When your roof is covered in snow, it is very slick and slippery.  Bottom line – it’s unsafe and you shouldn’t try to get on it.  But if you do feel the need to access the roof, contact a professional that has the necessary knowledge and equipment to do it safely.

Need a professional?  Contact us for a FREE, no obligation estimate.

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