ice dam on a home

The Damage Ice Dams Cause and How to Prevent It

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During the winter months, ice dams are a common occurrences in northern states and in areas prone to freezing temperatures. An ice dam is a block of ice that forms at the edge of the roof during those winter weather conditions. They are formed when the attic warmth in the roof becomes warm enough to melt the bottom layer of snow that’s sitting on the roof. As the melted water runs down the roof between the layer of snow and the shingles, it eventually freezes by the eave on the roof since that portion of the roof is cooler. Snow and ice already in the gutter ends up providing a foundation for the ice dam to form.

These ice dams are prone to putting your roof and gutters at risk of damage, which can lead to unwanted water damage repair and water damage restoration. If the ice dam is large enough, it can cause water to seep underneath the roof shingles as it melts. The water makes its way down into the roof insulation and into the exterior walls beneath the eaves. This also causes damage to the ceiling, interior walls, and the sheetrock.

How To Deal With Existing Ice Dams

If you have an existing ice dam on your home, it’s important to remove it correctly in order to avoid damaging the roof. It’s not a good idea to knock it off with an ax or hammer because this can cause damage to the roof and the gutters. Removal of ice dams is a slow process and it requires patience. It’s best to leave the removal to the professionals experienced in the removal process. The slightest slip up on your part and you could wind up ripping pieces of shingles off if you try to chip away at the ice block yourself. The professionals will have to melt through the ice dam with a calcium chloride ice melter in order to safely remove the obstruction.

How to Prevent Ice Dams

One way to prevent ice dams is to rake take a broom or a rake and sweep the snow off the roof when it falls. Because this method can be dangerous if you aren’t careful, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.

A couple of things you can safely do yourself are:

  • Seal the areas on your roof where warm air leaks through from the living area into the attic.
  • Vent the area between the insulation and the roof sheathing. This helps to disperse any warm air that does manage to leak through.


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