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What is an ice dam?
It is a natural occurrence of ice forming on a roof caused by the melting and refreezing of snow. As exterior and attic temperatures rise the snow starts to melt and run down to the eaves. The eaves are generally cooler since they are not over the heated portion of your home. The water hits this area and refreezes. This ice begins to grow into a block of ice along the eaves and gutters. As this block gets taller, the melting snow (water) begins to pond and push back up the roof. This can cause some serious damage to the interior of the home.
The temporary fix is to remove the ice on the edge of the roof to relieve the water back up. The easiest way to do this is to chip it away with the claw of your hammer, being very careful to not damage the roof. Ice dam removal can be dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken. Wear safety glasses, do not walk on an icy roof and make sure your ladder is secured top and bottom.
Do not put ice melt on a roof. Ice melt is corrosive and could damage the roof/gutters and can be harmful to any plant life underneath. There is no warranty on ice dam removal. Removal should slow down the leak. It will reform when the conditions return unless the underlying issue is resolved.
Ice Dam Prevention: Ideal in Fall
- De-icing cables. This is something that needs to be installed before it snows. It is a band aid to help cover for the inadequacies of the existing roof. The customer may need to have an electrician involved and remember to plug the cables in once it starts snowing. A few downsides to the cables – they are expensive to run and the should be taken down each spring and reinstalled late fall.
- Adding insulation in your attic will reduce much of the heat loss from the living space and help reduce the risk of ice damming.
- In some cases we can remove the bottom courses of shingles (once the roof is clear), install ice and water shield and install new shingles. The key to success here is a good tie into the existing roof. It is a very extensive repair.
- In many cases a new roof is needed. We take all of these precautions when we install a new roof. They are warrantied against ice dam leakage.