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How to Fix an Ice Dam

How to Fix an Ice Dam

Wintertime in Minnesota can transform the world into something out of a fairytale. But while those icicles hanging from the side of your home might look lovely, they could actually be a sign that you’re on the road to a spring roof leak. That’s because icicles usually accompany ice dams, which can be incredibly damaging to your roof and shorten its lifespan.

Our experts at Powers Premier Contracting in Minnesota have put together this guide to help you fix ice dams when they take over your roof. When you need a residential roofer in the Twin Cities area, give our team a call.

Ice Dam Formation

Understanding how ice dams work is the first step to preventing them from damaging your roof. Ice dams form when your roof insulation isn’t doing a good job of keeping heat inside your attic. As heat rises due to the convection process, it gets conducted through your roof, where it melts the ice and snow that’s settled on your roof.

But instead of running off of your roof and down through your gutter system, all that water will start to refreeze once it hits the edge of your roof. Once it begins to refreeze, a wall of ice begins to form, effectively creating an ice dam at the edge that prevents water from running off entirely. Since all that water now has no place to go, it runs back onto the roof where it gets underneath shingles, and once there, it can refreeze, pushing up shingles as it does. And as the resulting roof damage begins to gradually add up over time, water can end up seeping into your home where it causes a wide range of problems.

These are just a few of the problems ice dams can cause:

  • Insulation damage
  • Ceiling damage
  • Wall damage
  • Gutters pulling off the home
  • Mold growth
  • And more

Getting Rid of Ice Dams

When ice dams form on your roof, you should act fast to remove them. Here are some of the most common methods of ice dam prevention and removal:

  1. Use a Snow Rake

A snow rake is a fairly effective option for reducing ice dams and can be used while standing safely on the ground so you don’t have to worry about climbing a ladder.  By removing the snow from your roof before it starts to pile up, you’re reducing the amount of water that can refreeze on the edge of your roof. Keep a snow rake on hand and use it anytime there's heavy snow or snow that adds up on your roof.

To use your snow rake, begin at the outer edge, working your way in. Be careful not to come into contact with any power lines while you work. Additionally, don’t scrape the roof clean as it can damage your roof shingles in the process.

  1. Step Up Your Attic Insulation

An attic that’s properly insulated will reduce your chance of ice dams forming. Better attic insulation evens out the temperature on your roof so that the snow doesn’t melt, leading to ice dam formation.

  1. Have Your Roof Inspected

A number of roof performance issues that lead to ice dams can be avoided with regular roof inspections. Have a residential roofer check your roof for ventilation issues and make sure everything is sealed properly.

  1. Keep Your Gutters in Good Condition

Clogged and damaged gutters will only make ice dams worse. Be sure to clean your gutters regularly and have them repaired if they become damaged.

  1. Use a Deicer

Some homeowners prefer to use deicer to melt away their ice dams. To use this method, fill a pair of nylon pantyhose with deicer, tie the ends, and lay it over the ice dam. Remove it once water starts flowing freely again. Avoid using salt, which can be corrosive and damage your roof, and never apply deicer directly to your roof. Additionally, be extremely careful while applying the deicer since water from the melting roof can make your ladder slippery.

  1. Install Heating Cables

Heating cables can be installed to melt the snow and ice on your roof. Although it is a more expensive option, it may be worthwhile if you have significant recurrent issues with ice dams.

  1. Use Warm Water

Although warm water won’t completely eliminate the problem, it could be a good temporary fix. Some power washers can be used with hot water. Simply spray hot water on your roof and watch the ice dams slowly melt away.

Call Our Twin Cities Residential Roofing Contractors

If you’re concerned about ice dams on your roof, our team at Powers Premier Contracting can help. We offer a complete range of general contractor services including insulation upgrades, roof repair, gutter replacement, and more. To connect with our contractors, call Powers Premier at 612-710-7283 or contact us online for a free estimate today.