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How to Get Rid of Ice Dams During Winter: Prevention & Fast Fixes

12/01/2021

It’s not uncommon for homeowners to start noticing ice dams forming on their roofs during winter, especially in areas that get a lot of snow. And while they might seem harmless, ice dams can actually pose a huge risk for both homeowners and their homes.

Fortunately, a few simple solutions can help you deal with this issue, including some preventative measures that will keep ice dams at bay in the future.  

The most important aspect of ice dam prevention is avoiding uneven temperatures on your roof, i.e., keeping it cool enough. While one might think that the winter conditions should have this covered, unfortunately, it’s sometimes a little more complicated than that.

Two factors that play a significant role in maintaining even temperatures across your roof, thus keeping it cold enough, are your attic and the temperature inside your home. Oftentimes, heat escapes through the ceiling into the attic, consequently warming up the shingles above it, resulting in ice dams.

Read on to learn how to keep that from happening and how to prevent ice dams from forming on your roof ever again.

Understanding the Formation of Ice Dams on a Roof

As mentioned above, warm air from inside your home can easily escape through your ceiling, right through the attic, and transfer through the roof, which will result in snow melting on top of it. The water droplets from the melted snow will slowly run down the roof and refreeze upon nearing the roof’s edge.

As this cycle progresses and the ice layers keep building up, it will lead to ice dams forming on your roof. These ice dams, in turn, can prevent water from running off and put a lot of additional weight on your roof.

This is why dealing with ice dams promptly is always the best way to go. Below we share some tips on how to do that.

How to Deal with an Ice Dam on Your Roof

Add Attic Insulation

Attic insulation is a great way to prevent the heat from the inside of your home from transferring to the roof. Adding insulation into the ceiling just below the attic has proven to do the trick, as it will further decrease the heat transfer from your home’s interior.

By doing that, you are making sure that the warm air cannot reach and warm up the roof deck, thus causing the snow to melt and ice dams to form.

If you’ve already had your attic insulated, it’s not a bad idea to check whether there are any gaps or cracks and adequately seal them to prevent the warm air from escaping to the roof.

Install Attic Ventilation

The importance of attic ventilation cannot be overstated. Not only does it help prevent ice dams from forming, but it also protects your entire roofing structure year-round, preserving its health and stability. 

Quality attic ventilation is what keeps the temperature inside your home optimal by allowing the air in your attic space and just below the roof deck to circulate naturally. 

This means that during winter, the warm and cool air will be able to exchange naturally, preventing the attic space and roof from overheating and thus preventing the snow on your roof from melting and causing dams.

The best thing you can do for your home is to have your attic vents inspected by a professional as soon as possible. Your roofer will perform any repairs if needed and make sure that your attic vents can do their job of keeping your roof healthy and ice-dam-free.

Repair Any Cracks in the Ceilings and Attic

Unfortunately, even the smallest cracks and gaps in your ceilings, walls, or attic can lead to major heat loss. These cracks can result in both your roof overheating and your energy bills skyrocketing. 

Therefore, if you’ve noticed that your bills have been unusually high and there are ice dams on your roof, it would be wise to check your home for these cracks. You will most likely find them around the light fixtures and other penetrations on your ceiling, as well as around your chimney and piping.

You may also notice some gaps in your attic insulation or cracks in other parts of your attic or roof deck, which could also be letting the heat out.

Remove Snow from the Roof

Simply put, when there’s no snow on your roof, there’s nothing to melt, meaning no ice dams can form. So, when you notice snow accumulating up on your roof, be sure to rake it off the roof quickly – if it’s possible to do it safely – as ice dams are known to form rather quickly. 

What’s more, some parts of your roof can be pretty difficult to keep cool enough, so it’s paramount to keep those areas snow-free. Since this can sometimes be a risky task, your safest bet is to call in a professional and have them do it for you.

Use Chloride Socks

And last but certainly not least, you can also use calcium chloride (not rock salt), which is often used to melt ice on driveways. In case you weren’t aware, this product can melt ice dams on your roof just as successfully. 

Instead of sprinkling the chloride on the roof, we suggest you fill a long sock (or pantyhose) with the granules and secure their ends. The tube-like shape is what will help you place the calcium-chloride sock in a vertical position over the dam.

Be sure to hang around an inch of its end over the roof edge, and as a result, a tube-like channel should melt through the ice dam, allowing additional water to run safely off your roof, reducing the extra weight.

Stay Safe This Winter and Call Our Trusted Experts

Getting rid of ice dams during cold winter months can take up a lot of your time, not to mention how risky it can be. This is why maintaining your roof is so important. 

Not only will it prevent ice dams from forming on your roof, but it will also prevent all other potential dangers that come with it, such as leaks and damaged shingles. Therefore, investing in quality attic insulation and ventilation is a must.
This is where your #1 roofing contractors Bridgewater come in. We can provide you with the best long-term solutions and help get rid of ice dams for good. Call your experts at Fortified Roofing anytime for a professional roof inspection and solutions that make a difference!