ice dam removal shoveling off your roof

Posted On: January 24, 2023

Ice Dam Removal: Pro Guide to Remove Ice Dams Quickly & Safely

Who doesn’t love winter?

Beautiful white snow, hot chocolate, holiday parties…the list goes on and on.

That being said, wintertime can come with many challenges for homeowners. No, we aren’t talking about shoveling your driveway or scraping off your car. Or high heating bills. Or mice. Or…okay, wow, there are a lot of winter challenges.

No, today we are talking about a serious problem. That’s right. We’re talking about ice dams.

Most homeowners will have to deal with an ice dam at some point. If you are finding one on your roof this year, you may be wondering:

  • Is it really that dangerous?
  • Can I just wait for it to melt?
  • How do I remove it?

Luckily for you, our roofing professionals have the answers that you need. With our help, you can rest easy knowing that your ice dam removal is being done safely and correctly.

What Is an Ice Dam?

ice dam removal what is an ice dam

So, what exactly is an ice dam? Have you ever seen a chain of icicles form across the edge of your roof? That is an ice dam.

Ice dams form when the snow melts off your roof and then refreezes as it travels down the roof slope. Ice dams are most commonly found on the roof’s edge and behind the gutters. Ice dam formation is also common around ridge and soffit vents, sometimes even by windows or on siding.

Ice dams can be created by rapidly changing winter weather, but your roof’s temperature vs. the exterior temperature could also cause snow to melt and refreeze at a faster-than-normal pace. It is a good idea to have a roofing professional check your roof to make sure that your insulation is not allowing an air leak.

Are Ice Dams Bad?

Icicles may be pretty, but they can also mean bad news for your entire roof. Ice dams prevent your gutters and roofing system from working properly, which can result in water and debris building up on your roof.

This can lead to damage to your roof. In particular? Water damage.

If you have noticed that your home is developing stained and sagging ceilings, it is a dangerous sign that you may be suffering from severe water damage caused by your ice dam.

Ice dam damage can also occur to your gutters themselves. Ice dam formations can be heavy and pull your gutters away from the roof edge.

How Can You Prevent Ice Dams?

The best way to fight ice dams is to stop them from forming in the first place. There are a variety of strategies when it comes to ice dam prevention. Here are some of our top suggestions.

  • Start Shoveling – One of the simplest ways to prevent ice dams from forming is to regularly shovel your roof. This stops the snow from melting right at the source. You can buy specialized roof shovels that allow you to clear snow-covered roofs while remaining safe on the ground.
  • Add Insulation – If ice dams are a frequent problem for you, you might want to consider installing new insulation into your attic ceiling. This will help ensure that your roof is the same temperature as the exterior of your home.
  • Install Proper Ventilation – If things such as dryer vents and ducts from the kitchen and bathrooms aren’t properly installed, they could be causing ice dams to room on the exterior of your house. Have a professional install proper ventilation, and you can kiss the ice goodbye.
  • Install Sealed Can Lights – If you have older forms of can lights, they may be contributing to excess heat that will melt snow and cause an ice dam problem. Switching to modern sealed can lights can help solve this.

Ice Dam Prevention Products

ice dam removal purchase heated cables anti ice

In addition to the above tips, there are some great products on the market that can help you get rid of ice for good.

One of the most popular options is to purchase calcium chloride. You can fill a pair of tights or pantyhose with calcium chloride and then place it on the vulnerable spots of your roof in order to melt ice dams.

Alternatively, you can purchase heated cables that will quickly melt any snow and get rid of ice dams fast.

How to Remove Ice Dams in 4 Steps

Hacking at an ice dam with a hammer and chisel could actually cause more damage to your roof and gutters. Want to learn the correct way to get rid of ice dams? Follow the steps below.

1) Secure Ladder

ice dam removal using a ladder

When it’s icy and slippery out, it’s imperative that you take extra precautions when setting up your ladder. Make sure that the ground is clear of all ice and snow. Ideally, have a friend or family member help hold the ladder to ensure you are secure.

2) Prepare Your Hose

Take a long garden hose and attach it to a hot water faucet somewhere in your home. This could be through a laundry room sink, a kitchen faucet, or a tub. Make sure the hose is securely attached with no leaks. Run the hose out to where you have the ladder set up.

3.) Melt the Ice

You can now climb up the ladder and turn the hose on. It may take some time, but the hot water will eventually melt the ice and clear your gutter system.

4) Set Up Protection

Once the ice dam is removed, we recommend contacting a roofing professional to make a plan to prevent future ice dam formations.

Get Professional Assistance

Not feeling ready to tackle an ice dam on your own? Our team at Northface Construction can help. As a trusted roofing contractor, we can help ensure that your ice dam removal is done safely and properly. We can also help you find a solution to prevent an icy roof in the future. Sound intriguing? Contact our team today for a free quote on all your future roofing projects!


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