If you live in a snowy area of the country, there is a good chance you have dealt with an ice dam at one time or another. An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms along the edge of a roof, preventing melting snow from effectively draining off of the roof. When ice dams are not promptly resolved, meltwater can backup causing water leaks and a range of other issues. It is important to understand why ice dams form and how you can get rid of ice dams on your roof.
How Do Ice Dams Form?
It does not take much for an ice dam to form. Ice dams often occur after a heavy snowfall. As the warm air in the attic begins melting the snow on the roof, the water runs down the roof but refreezes at the edge due to the colder roof temperature. As it refreezes, a mound of ice develops which prevents meltwater from running off of the roof. As the meltwater sits on the roof’s surface behind the ice dam barrier, it can seep under shingles and drip into your home.
There are a number of signs that could indicate that your home has ice dams, such as wet and stained ceilings and walls. You may also notice that you have wood rot and peeling paint due to moisture issues. On the outside of your home, ice can form on exterior walls under the siding and beneath the soffit. Icicles that form on the edge of the roof are another common sign that an ice dam has formed. While icicles may look pretty in the winter, they are often caused by the improper draining of water from the roof.
How Do I Get Rid Of Ice Dams?
If you are a self-proclaimed DIYer, you may be wondering how to remove ice dams from your roof yourself. There is no one right way to remove ice dams and each home and situation may call for a different strategy. One of the first things you will want to do to prevent further damage to your home is to eliminate the snow that is melting, causing water damage and other problems. A snow rake is an effective way to remove snow from your roof. Snow rakes are retractable rakes that can extend up to 15 feet or more. While standing on the ground, use the rake to scrape the remaining snow off of your roof.
If the mound of built-up ice does not want to budge, it may be necessary to manually remove it. Using an ice pick or awl, chip away at the ice dam while standing on a stabilized ladder. It may be necessary to work along the entire side of the roof, as well as in the gutters where additional ice can form. Be careful not to cause damage to your roof or gutter system while chipping away the ice. You do not necessarily need to remove all of the ice. You just want to remove enough to create a channel where melted snow can run from the roof to the gutters.
Using Chemical Solutions On Ice Dams
For particularly tough ice dams, a chemical de-icer product may be used to help melt the snow and ice faster. These types of products often contain ammonium sulfate, urea fertilizer, potassium chloride, calcium magnesium acetate, and other chemicals designed to quicken the ice-melting process. Follow the instructions on the package to use the product safely. Most de-icer products require you to sprinkle the substance along the edges of the roof and in the gutter. Once the de-icer melts the snow and ice, the water should easily drain from your roof.
While it is possible to remove an ice dam from your roof yourself, this is not a recommended action. Climbing onto your roof can pose serious dangers as your roof will no doubt be wet and slippery. Even using a roof rake can be hazardous as heavy snow can fall onto you from the roof. Unless the DIY route is absolutely necessary, it is always a wise idea to hire an experienced professional to remove ice dams from your roof.
Do Ice Dams Cause Damage?
Ice dams can be highly problematic as they force water to sit on your roof’s surface. If not promptly removed, an ice dam can result in rotted roof decking and rafters, as well as wood rot in the interior wall framing and sheathing. Ice dams can also contribute to the growth of mold growth, leading to respiratory illnesses. If ice dams become an ongoing problem, you may find the insulation in your home less effective. Wet insulation does not work as well and will not decompress after drying.
Ice dams can also cause extensive damage to the interior of your home. When water from your roof leaks into your home, it often infiltrates wall cavities. You may notice the paint or wallpaper on your wall starting to bubble, blister, or peel. Water stains can develop on your ceiling and if there is too much moisture, you risk your ceiling collapsing. Ice dams can also be dangerous to your family and passersby. Icicles can form on the edge of your roof, sometimes to massive sizes. If these icicles should break off and fall, any one below the roof could become seriously injured. The icicles could also cause damage to your roof, gutters, or exterior of your home on their way down to the ground.
Speak To Professional Roofing Contractors
Most homeowners do not give much thought to their roof in the winter until a leak develops. Oftentimes, a leak indicates that moisture issues have been occurring for a while. Do not wait until your home has suffered extensive damage before getting rid of ice dams on your roof. Do you need help dealing with ice dams or determining the source of the problem? Contact the professional roofing contractors at Beyond Exteriors to schedule a free roof consolation or to inquire about a roof evaluation to determine the extent of the damage.