3 Options To Help You Prevent And Remove Winter Roof Ice Dams

Ice dams on your roof will create a cascade of sparkling icicles on your home, but it can cause damage to your roof's shingles and allow water to seep and ice to form below your roof's protective layers. Ice dams are caused as snow on your roof melts and runs down to the roof's edge where it refreezes on the cold roof overhang, but there are several ways to prevent their formation. Here are three options you can use to prevent and remove roof ice dams.

Rake Snow From Your Roof

If your roof is prone to ice dam growth in the winter, it can be helpful to use a roof rake to remove snow from its surface. You can purchase a roof rake with a handle measuring approximately 20 feet to rake the snow from your rooftop after each snow storm. And you can use the roof rake while you stand on the ground, instead of getting onto your slippery roof. If your home is a two story home, you will need a longer handled roof rake to reach the roof.

It is recommended to scrape the snow from the bottom two to four feet of your roof to help prevent ice dam formation. Be sure you use a plastic roof rake and not a metal, as metal can pull up and damage your roof's shingles.

Don't worry about removing any of the snow on the higher levels of your home's roof, unless your roof is a flat or low slope roof. When deep snow accumulates on a roof that is flat or low sloped, it can add too much weight and put your roof at risk of collapse. You can also hire a roofing snow removal professional to safely remove all the snow for you to prevent ice dams and roof collapse.

Melt Roof Ice Dams

Another way to stop ice dam formation on your roof is to install a system on the edge of your roof to melt ice and prevent further ice formation. If it is already winter and your roof is covered in snow, an easy way to melt any ice dams is to get an old nylon pantyhose and cut off each of the legs. Purchase some calcium chloride ice melt pellets at a local home improvement store and fill each pantyhose leg with the pellets, tying the ends closed.

Toss or place each calcium chloride-filled pantyhose leg onto the edge of your roof lengthwise, positioned where ice dams form. Calcium chloride is the best type of ice melt for your roof, as it will melt ice in temperatures as low as -25 degrees F, so it will work in many climates. 

Another way to prevent ice dam formation is to install heat cables on the edge of your roof in a zig-zag pattern. As you install this on your roof, be sure you also install heat cables along the interior of your roof gutter and downspouts to prevent the snow melt from refreezing. Otherwise, you will end up with a gutter and downspouts full of ice.

Keep Your Attic Cool

One of the main causes of ice dams is heat escaping your home into the attic, which heats your roof from the inside. It is recommended to inspect your attic for any cracks in your attic's floor around duct work and electrical outlets, between gaps in your insulation, and through your attic access hatch. You can have an insulation professional inspect your attic for any places where heat may be getting into your attic. Your attic should be kept as cool as possible and as close to the outside temperature as possible.

Once you determine where heat is entering into your attic, you or the insulation professional can add additional spray-in cellulose or foam insulation. Then, seal up cracks around areas, such as duct work, electrical lines, and the attic access hatch with spray foam insulation. 

Use these three ways to prevent and remedy ice dams. For more information, contact a company like Bob Behrends Roofing & Gutters LLC.