If you have snow on your roof that melts and then refreezes when it drips to the edge of your roof, it can create ice dams. These may seem harmless, but the ice can damage your roofing materials, gutters, and other elements of your roof. Here are some tips for removing and preventing them.

How to Safely Remove Ice Dams

When you notice ice dams on your roof, the first thing you should do is remove them. Don't just assume they will be fine until they melt, because if you are in the dead of winter, it could be a long time before that happens. The longer the ice dams remains on your roof and gutters, the more susceptible they will be to damage. If you have a roof rake with an extra-long handle and your roof's edge is relatively low, you might be able to gently knock the ice down when you are standing on the ground. However, be very careful when you do this; you don't want to be struck by falling ice or damage your roof in the process.

The method most recommended for ice dam removal is to get up on the roof. You need a tall, sturdy ladder that reaches the top of your roof. It should be tall enough that you can walk onto the roof, as opposed to having to climb up. Make sure you wear shoes with a rubber grip so you don't slip while standing on the roof. You can remove the ice dams with your roof rake or cut a channel into the ice to let the water drip out.

Another option for removing ice dams is to use calcium chloride, found in ice melt products. Add a small amount to a nylon stocking and place it directly on top of the ice dam. This helps to melt a channel in the ice dam and lets the water go through your drainage system.

What to Do after a Storm

One of the best ways to prevent ice dams in the future is to remove the snow from your roof after a big storm. Storms can create several inches of snow on top of your roof, which will melt and end up in your gutters, where they might refreeze and turn into ice dams. A good way to prevent this is to keep large amounts of snow off of your roof, because this accumulates into a lot of water that could fill the gutters, especially if there are blockages that keep the draining from working properly.

Further Prevention of Ice Dams

Also make sure your HVAC system is working properly and that you have good insulation and ventilation for your roof. If you don't have good ventilation or insulation, turning on the furnace could heat up the roof's surface, which causes the snow to melt prematurely. Since it is still cold out, that melted snow refreezes if it gets caught at the roof's edge, which turns it into ice dams. Get your HVAC system looked at to prevent this from happening.

For more advice or to get the ice dams remedied professionally, contact a residential roofing service like All American Roofing Incorporated.