How To Remove Ice Dams
Ice dams can be a winter time menace and cause havoc on roofs, gutters, and walls if they aren’t dealt with. The following is a guide to help remove ice dams from gutters and roofs before water starts getting into the homes walls and ceilings.
WHAT IS AN ICE DAM
An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow / water from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak through shingles and into a home causing damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas.
HOW ICE DAMS OCCUR
Ice dams occur when snow melts and refreezes on a roof. Snow will melt because of the sun and also due to poorly insulated areas of the roof which allow the home’s heat to escape and warm the roof. Once they form it’s imperative to get rid of them as the melted snow’s water has nowhere to run off and will end up in the house which can end up causing thousands of dollars in damage.
Here are a few ways to prevent ice dams from occurring and alleviate the problem if they do.
PREVENT ICE DAMS
A heating cable system such as Easy Heat are thin cables that are attached to the roof and gutters. Once plugged into a grounded electrical outlet the cables heat up which melts snow allowing water to run off without refreezing.
Heat cables truly work and allow a worry free winter if installed prior to the first snowfall. They are easy to install and can remain on a roof season after season. They run from $20 – $200 depending on the length of the cable. See our in-depth review on Easy Heat Roof Cables for more info.
It’s important to remember that heat cables are intended to be installed prior to snow build up or on an ice-free roof. If ice dams have already occurred remove them before installing a heated cable system.
Here are a few ways to do just that…
HOW TO REMOVE ICE DAMS
Once ice dams occur and those massive icicles begin to form the first thing you need to do is get as much snow off of the roof as possible. Thankfully there are a couple of tools that make the job a bit safer and easier.
Roof rakes are designed to remove snow from the roof while standing on the ground in most cases. Their long extension poles let you access the upper eaves of the roof raking the snow down to the ground. See below for two of our favorite roof rakes.
Avalanche – Original Roof Snow Removal System
One of the smarter designed roof rakes available the Avalanche has a couple of features that make it stand out and make getting snow off of the roof easier.
The Avalanche has a 17-Inch patented cutter frame that will dig into a couple of feet of snow that is attached to 1 1/2 inch wheels making it easy to move the rake and save your shingles in the process.
See It In Action
What’s even cooler about this roof rake is the 8-foot plastic slide that allows feet of snow to glide down the roof rather than having to rake the snow all the way down.
Garelick 21-Foot Aluminum Snow Roof Rake With 24-Inch Blade
This roof rake from Garelick is the best-reviewed rake on Amazon.
- Won’t damage shingles
- 21-foot reach using 4 easy snap together sections
- Prevents ice dams from forming
- Removes weight from snow from your roof to prevent eave damage
- Blade measures 24-inch x 7-inch
Roof Melt Tablets
The hockey puck-shaped tablets are made of calcium chloride and can be tossed onto the roof without having to get a ladder out on ice and snow. I’ve read mixed reviews about this product on Amazon and was surprised. I used these last winter and found them to be very effective in breaking up ice dams.
One Customer Reviewer Wrote:
“These need to be placed (thrown) ABOVE the ice. This way as snow melts the water will carry more and more of the calcium chloride from these pucks with it. This will continue and channels will form in the ice which will give the water a path to flow off of the roof, instead of through the roof and into your home.”
For about $30 you’ll get 60 tablets.
THE NYLON METHOD
Many folks swear by the nylon method to diminish ice dams. Simply fill a women’s stocking with calcium chloride or similar product (never use rock salt) turning it into about a 4′ snow melting sausage. Place it above the ice dam. The downside of this method is that you need to physically place it on the roof. Tossing it generally doesn’t work as it rolls down.
Whatever method you choose will certainly help remove ice dams from gutters before they become dangerous and potentially damaging to your roof and home. Just make sure you plan ahead because once they form they can start to do damage within days if not hours.