Ice Dam Removal Methods

Tips on How to Prevent and Remove Ice Dams

By Mark J. Donovan

Large and long icicles hanging from your roof eaves and gutters are a sure sign of ice dams. Ice dams can put your home at high risk of water damage. Ice dams form due to the melting of snow on the roof and then the refreezing of the water as it nears the edge of the roof. As the roof snow melt refreezes, it can back up and go underneath the bottom rows of shingles. If there is no ice and water shield underneath the shingles, the water will quickly find its way through cracks in the roof sheathing or nails and into the attic area of your home.

Once it enters you attic the water usually doesn’t stop there. It often finds its way onto you drywall ceilings and walls.

In some cases it can even find its way into recessed ceiling lighting. If left unchecked the water can cause damage to the home and promote mold and mildew growth.

At the root of all ice dams is inadequate ventilation and insulation in the attic. Two ways to prevent ice dams is to make sure there is enough attic insulation, at least R39 level, and that there are sufficient soffit and ridge or gable end vents.

The attic insulation helps prevent warm moist air from entering the attic, and the attic vents help to quickly vent any of the warm air that does get into the attic out into the atmosphere. By keeping the attic cold, snow sitting on the roof will not melt from the underside, and thus will prevent the formation of ice dams.

The best bet to preventing ice dams, without adding insulation and better ventilation, is to remove as much snow from the roof as possible, without hurting or killing yourself.

A roof snow rake is much safer than using a ladder and shovel on a snowy roof. If you remove the snow on the roof then ice dams will not form.

If you have ice dams already formed on the roof, then again remove as much of the snow on the roof as possible. Then use ice melt socks, and place them perpendicular to the roof line every 5 to 10 feet. The ice melt socks are nylon stockings filled with ice melt. They will melt troughs in the ice dams so that any additional water will flow off the roof and thus prevent any additional build up of ice dams.

How to remove ice dams with ice melt socks.

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