Freshly fallen snow and icicles can make any home look like a winter wonderland, but they can also cause damage to your roof. Freezing weather conditions can cause melting snow to refreeze and form thick buildups of ice. These so-called ice dams form along the eaves of the roof and can loosen shingles or even tear off gutters.

Without proper removal, ice dams can lead to complications that can incur high repair costs. If your roof sustains serious damage from water pooling and refreezing, it may eventually need to be replaced. To help you avoid repair and roof replacement costs, we created this guide to safely removing ice dams this winter season.

How to Safely Remove Ice Dams

When removing ice dams from your eaves and gutters, you will want to avoid any removal methods that can cause further damage. When preparing for ice dam removal, here are two things you should avoid:

  • Do not throw salt on the roof – Rock salt used for melting snow and ice is made of sodium chloride, which is highly corrosive and can damage roofing materials.
  • Do not remove with tools – Your first instinct may be to break off the icicles and begin hacking away at the ice dam with tools like a hammer and chisel or shovel. While you may be successful in removing the dam, you risk damaging your roof underneath.

Now, let’s discuss how to safely and properly remove ice dams.

Eliminate the Source

Ice dams are formed when accumulated snow on the roof melts down and refreezes on the eaves. Once a dam has formed, it creates a wall that prevents further water runoff. Pooling water can cause the ice dam to grow in size. Removing snow from your roof is essential to stopping the growth of the ice dam.

Tip: Read our helpful article about safe snow removal.

Calcium Chloride Roof Deicers

You may come across some roof deicing products that are made of calcium chloride as opposed to the more corrosive sodium chloride or rock salt. When calcium chloride comes into contact with the ice dam, it will quickly form a brine that will lower the freezing point of the water and melt the ice.

Some experts caution against using deicers on your roof, but you should be able to use calcium chloride products sparingly. For instance, manufacturers sell calcium chloride ice melting tablets that you can toss on your roof while safely standing on the ground. The tablet will meltdown and settle on the roof surface. As water drains from the roof to the ground, the ice dam will be gradually eliminated. A do-it-yourself version is to pack a nylon stocking with calcium chloride and to throw it or place it onto the roof.

Tip: Be sure to place a tarp over any shrubbery sitting beneath the gutters or downspouts. This will protect them from damage caused by calcium chloride-saturated water runoff.

Use Heat Cables

Heat cables also referred to as heat tape or wire, can be attached to your roof. Heat cables work by creating heat channels that help prevent ice formation and melt ice buildup. However, they do require electricity, which can result in higher utility bills.

Tip: Ice dams often form due to poor attic insulation. Try improving your attic’s insulation to help increase the roof’s surface temperature and prevent ice dam formation

Here at Advance Inc., we are proud to offer our customers and community reliable resources and outstanding services. If you need roof repair or replacement, contact us today to speak to a representative. Or, browse our website for available services. We are happy to help.