How to Remove Ice Dams

In our last post, we discussed ice dams, and how to prevent them from building up on the roof of your home. Today, we’re going to talk about how to remove ice dams once they’ve built up to prevent them from causing significant damage to your roof and inside your house.

The presence of an ice dam doesn’t automatically mean that water has gotten through your roof’s membrane. It does, however, mean that you should act quickly to avoid that kind of damage from occurring. If there are water stains or moisture in the attic or near the tops of exterior walls in the top floor of your home, it’s likely that an ice dam has caused internal damage.

How to Remove Ice Dams

How you approach removing ice dams from your roof depends entirely on whether or not you can safely reach your roof or not.

  • If you can safely reach your roof, use a roof rake to try to knock the ice dam off.
  • You could also try to cut through the ice to form a tunnel that will allow the water to drain.
  • Another option is to fill a nylon stocking with calcium chloride ice melt to use as a tool. Take the ice melt-filled stocking and put it across the dam vertically so that it creates a tunnel going through the dam. It’s important to use calcium chloride, and not rock salt, because rock salt will damage your roof. Also bear in mind that any plants or shrubs near the gutter or downspout may be damaged due to the chemicals.
  • If you can’t safely reach your roof, it’s best to call a contractor to come handle the situation. They have the kind of tools and equipment necessary to handle the job without injury.

What About Icicles?

Icicles don’t always indicate that there’s an ice dam problem. Look at the especially large icicles that have formed on your house; if they’re only on the gutter, and you can’t see any water stuck behind them, there likely isn’t an ice dam problem.

That being said, large icicles are still dangerous because passersby can potentially be seriously injured when they fall. Standing on the ground, a safe distance from the icicle, knock large icicles off of your roof to avoid injuries.

More often than not, preventative maintenance is something that property owners are responsible for handling. However, just because that’s how it usually happens doesn’t mean that’s how it always happens. Every situation is different, and coverage policies and claims decisions involve a wide variety of factors. Speak with a professional if you have insurance questions regarding preventative winter weather care!

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