Pro Tips for Ice Dam Removal and Prevention

For many of us, ice dams are phenomena we only talk about in passing conversation—that is, until the neighbor’s ancient wooden barn roof caves in because of them, or until somebody we know is injured by the massive resulting icicles. Still, ice dams remain mysterious, even to native Minnesotans, who inevitably deal with them each and every snow season. Understanding what ice dams are and why they pose a concern is crucial for protecting your home. Ice dams hanging off of a brick house in winter

What Are Ice Dams? Why Should You Worry About Them?

An ice dam is, essentially, a buildup of ice on the eaves of your house. They look a bit like a shapeless lump, sometimes with numerous icicles dangling off the sides.

Ice dams can only form on snowy roofs. The process begins when snow toward the top of your roof, warmed by your home’s natural heat loss, melts and drifts down toward the colder eaves and gutters. When it reaches this point, the water freezes into ice. As more and more of this ice accumulates, an ice dam begins to form.

What’s wrong with that, you might ask? Minnesota homes are designed to withstand a little ice now and again, but that isn’t the issue. The problems with ice dams begin when they get big enough to stop the melted water from getting to a cold enough part of your roof to freeze. You’re left with a standing puddle of water on your winter roof—a puddle that can quickly work its way between your shingles and into your home. In severe cases, mold growth becomes a risk, posing health hazards for your household. On the aesthetic side of things, water can cause paint to peel and floors to warp. Therefore, it’s best to take care of your ice dams before they snowball into something big as well as expensive.

Related: The Dangers of Ice Dams in Your Gutters

How Do You Get Rid of Ice Dams?

Eliminating ice dams can be quite a challenge once they've formed. The combination of your home's heat and the snow that leads to their formation is a tough puzzle to solve without professional assistance. Still, as a homeowner, you can do a few things to slow down existing ice dams and stop new ones from showing up.

Clearing your roof of snow:

After heavy snowfall, use a roof rake to clear excess snow from the edges of your roof. Removing winter precipitation takes away one of the ingredients an ice dam needs to form. However, if your roof already has ice dams, it might have so much snow that it could be unsafe for anyone to be on it. If labor-intensive snow removal is an action you choose to take, hire professionals and stay on top of the process.

Chopping channels through the ice dam:

By cutting into the ice dam, you allow some of the trapped water to drain. However, this is by no means a permanent fix. The water tends to refreeze rapidly, often resulting in a situation worse than before. Woman using a roof rake to prevent ice dams

Preventing Ice Dams

If you're dealing with stubborn preformed ice dams, the outlook isn't great. That's why putting your efforts into prevention is the smart move – it ensures you won't end up needing roof repairs when spring rolls around. Here are a few ice dam prevention tips.

Maintain Adequate Insulation:

Ensuring that your attic is properly insulated is a fundamental step in preventing ice dams. Adequate insulation helps regulate the temperature of your roof, minimizing the chances of snow melting and refreezing. Consult with a professional to assess your insulation and make necessary adjustments. HVAC expert installing heating vents in an attic

Ventilation Is Key:

Proper attic ventilation is another critical factor in preventing ice dams. Adequate ventilation allows warm air to escape, reducing the likelihood of snow melting on the roof. Consider installing vents and exhaust fans to maintain a consistent and balanced temperature in your attic.

Seal Air Leaks:

Identify and seal any potential air leaks in your attic. Leaks contribute to heat loss, raising the temperature of your roof and accelerating snowmelt. Addressing these leaks helps maintain a more stable roof temperature, preventing the formation of ice

Install Ice and Water Shield:

Consider installing an ice and water shield beneath your roofing material. This waterproof membrane acts as an additional barrier, preventing water from penetrating your roof and causing damage. Consult with a roofing professional to determine the best solution for your home.

Tackle Ice Dam Challenges with Midwest Exteriors MN

If you've been battling ice dams for an extended period, the wear and tear on your roof might signal the need for a replacement. We understand the challenges you're facing, and Midwest Exteriors MN is here to help. Contact us at 651-346-9477 for a free quote, and let's work together to find the right solution for you.

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