What Are Ice Dams and Why Should a Homeowner Be Concerned If Ice Dams Develop?

Ice dams are those huge pieces of ice that develop along the gutters of your house. Initially you might be inclined to leave them alone. After all, they often look very pretty, like the icing dripping off a gingerbread house in crystal form. However, ice dams are far more serious than you may realize. In fact, you want to avoid having them form on your home entirely. There are some good reasons why you shouldn’t let ice dams form, and there are some good ways to remove and prevent them too.

Why Ice Dams Shouldn’t Be Left Alone

Ice dams cause water to back up over your roof. The ice pushes back against the shingles of your home and pushes the shingles up, revealing the layers of materials underneath. This exposes your home to potential water damage and a rotting roof, none of which are cheap to replace or cheap to repair. If you see an ice dam forming in the early stages, it is time to call out a professional to help you remove the ice dam.

What Causes Ice Dams

Roofs are naturally warmer than the air outside. Also, on warmer winter days, snow and ice melt and flow down toward the gutters. Unfortunately, the minute the sun sets, it becomes cold again and the melting stuff freezes into ice. Anything that hasn’t dripped off the edges of your roof freezes and forms the layers of an ice dam.

How to Remove Ice Dams

Heat is the only sure-fire way to remove an ice dam, although you can use rock salt if it’s warmer than 30 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Roof cables that heat up and melt through the ice dams work. Professionals have a few other tools at their disposal for removing ice dams.

How to Prevent Ice Dams

The best way to prevent ice dams is to remove layers of fresh snow right after the snow stops falling. If the snow continues to fall over a 24-hour period, you may need to go outside and use a special roof shovel to pull the snow down to the ground.

Roof cables that heat up and stay warm can melt snow before it turns into ice. These should be professionally installed to prevent accidental fires and prevent the slippage of the cables off the roof. Whenever possible, consult a professional to help you prevent ice dams.