What To Do When There Is An Ice Dam On The Roof

It gets pretty cold during the winter in the Midwest and, of course, the Alaska. Most houses, especially those built before the 2000s, are mostly made with asphalt shingles, and some are built with metal shingles. Ice dams are frequently shown during the snowy wintertime, and if it gets too big, it is better to remove them carefully before it damages your roof. 

You’ve probably seen in many winter or Christmas movies where you find clear, frozen sticks of ice hanging on the edges of the house. Those are called ice dams, and these are created when the snow freezes overnight on the roof. A good amount of snow builds up on the roof, begins to melt, and freezes overnight due to the cold weather. The melting water freezes as they slide down the edge of the roof and create a sharp-shaped ice stick.  

What To Do When There Is An Ice Dam On The Roof
Ice Dam On The Roof

How Does It Damage The Roof?

If the ice dams get too large, it gets heavier and blocks the snow to drain off the roof. Further on, this could damage your roof system and the gutters. Small ice dams that look like icicles won’t be a big problem. However, if the dams are too big and you can see the water creating a pond on the edge of the roof, that could damage the roof soon.

If there are too many or too large ice dams formed on your roof, that could soon create a roof leak. Once the water is hidden behind the ice dams, it goes underneath the shingles and freezes overnight. When water freezes, the mass gets bigger because of the density. So, it is creating and expanding gaps between the shingles, underlayment, and waterproof barrier. This enables more water to get inside the shingles and result in leakage inside your house.

How To Remove Ice Dam

The sooner you find out, the less damage to your roof. Before you start the removal process, make sure there are no people around you. Big sharp ice dams are heavy and sharp enough to hurt people. Once no one is around you, ensure you have all the safety gears with you, like safety goggles, safety hard hat, work gloves, and heavy-duty non-slip shoes.

Start by carefully knocking down the ice dams. This needs to be done to prevent from hurting yourself and from structural damages to the roof and gutters. Carefully find a spot to place your ladder and to climb up on the roof. Once you are up there, start by chipping off the ice and clear the roof. Don’t forget to clean the gutters and the surroundings to prevent detaching. If you know for sure there is no leak on the roof, pouring hot water is another option.

If you want to use chemical products that could help fasten the process, you can use a calcium chloride ice melting product that looks like small grain. You can sprinkle the product on the roof to melt the ice and ice dams quicker. Do not use rock salt or sodium chloride because it could damage your roof.

How To Prevent Ice Dam Before Winter Arrives

One of the most common and effective ways to prevent an ice dam is to have a good ventilation system on the roof. The reason for the melting snow is the heat coming from the inside of the house. Heat moves upwards, which heat inside the house would move up to the ceiling. So, the snow on the ridge of the roof will start melting and flowing down to the cooler section of the roof, which is close to the edge, and freeze again. The edges are not completely attached to the wall, which keeps them cool. You can add additional ventilation holes to your existing shingles. If you have a proper ventilation system, the heat will not be concentrated to the attire but evenly spread out.

People often forget that keeping the gutters clean can prevent many kinds of damages to your roof.

Start by carefully knocking down the ice dams. This needs to be done to prevent from hurting yourself and from structural damages to the roof and gutters. Carefully find a spot to place your ladder and to climb up on the roof. Once you are up there, start by chipping off the ice and clear the roof. Don’t forget to clean the gutters and the surroundings to prevent detaching. If you know for sure there is no leak on the roof, pouring hot water is another option.

If you want to use chemical products that could help fasten the process, you can use a calcium chloride ice melting product that looks like small grain. You can sprinkle the product on the roof to melt the ice and ice dams quicker. Do not use rock salt or sodium chloride because it could damage your roof.

Getting Help from The Expert

If the roof is extremely damaged or has too many giant ice dams, it’s better to hire an expert to take care of it. If your roof is too high to reach with a standard ladder, have expert care for it. There are many things to consider when removing and fixing ice dams and damaged roofs. The ice dams could be putting a lot of weight into the roof, making it unbalanced. Or, there could be a roof leak that is caused by many different reasons. The expert could provide the best solution possible and preventions as well.

Is Ice Dam Covered by Home Insurance?

It may vary by insurance companies, but most homeowner insurance covers home damages due to extreme weather. These are called “dwelling coverage,” which covers damages that happened to your house. In some cases, the insurance company will provide additional living expense coverage, which is to provide the family a hotel to stay while waiting for their house to be repaired. For any other damages that are not directly to the home, insurances provide other structures coverage. It partially covers the damages of other components like the garden and the garage. However, insurances do not provide coverage for damages to personal belongings caused by ice dams. Make sure to read the insurance policy of your company because some may not cover the removal service of the ice dam. Terms and limits apply to each and every case of property damage, so talk to an agent to get better help.

Cold winter tends to feel longer than other weather. Before the winter arrives, double-check if your roof has enough ventilation system, if your walls are well insulated, and if there are any damages on the roof. Preventing is way easier than solving the problem after it has happened.

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What To Do When There Is An Ice Dam On The Roof
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