How To Remove Ice Dams In 4 Simple Steps
February 9, 2024

Winter can bring:

  • Breathtaking scenery 🏔️
  • Cozy nights by the fire 🔥
  • The joy of outdoor activities ⛷️

However, it can also bring along a less picturesque challenge: ice dams. Ice dams are not only a nuisance but can also pose significant risks to your roof and home if not handled properly. In this guide, we’ll delve into what ice dams are, the dangers they present, and most importantly, how to remove ice dams while preventing future formations.

Understanding Ice Dams

Ice dams are ridges of ice that form along the edge of a roof, typically in colder climates where snow is prevalent. They occur when heat from the interior of a home melts the snow on the roof, causing water to trickle down towards the eaves. As this water reaches the colder eaves, it refreezes, forming a barrier of ice.

Over time, this barrier can grow, trapping additional melted snow behind it. This pooled water can seep beneath shingles, causing damage to the roof, insulation, and even the interior of your home.

The Dangers of Ice Dams

ice dams damage gutters

Ice dams present several dangers, both immediate and long-term. One of the most immediate risks is roof damage.

The weight of the ice can cause stress on the roof structure, leading to leaks, sagging, or even collapse in extreme cases. Additionally, as water seeps beneath shingles, it can infiltrate your home, damaging ceilings, walls, and insulation. Mold and mildew growth are also common in areas affected by water damage, posing health risks to inhabitants.

4 Steps for Safely Removing Ice Dams

Removing ice dams safely requires patience, caution, and the right tools. Here are some steps to follow:

1) Safety First:

Before attempting to remove an ice dam, prioritize your safety. Use a sturdy ladder and ensure it’s securely placed on level ground. Wear appropriate safety gear, including a helmet and gloves, to protect yourself from falling ice and debris.

2) Gentle Removal:

Start by gently breaking away any icicles hanging from the eaves. Use a long-handled broom or rake to carefully chip away at the ice dam, working from the edge of the roof towards the center. Avoid using sharp tools or excessive force, as these can damage the roof and exacerbate the problem.

3) Heat Source:

Another method for removing ice dams is to create a channel through the dam to allow melted water to drain. This can be done by placing heated cables or pads along the eaves to melt the ice. However, exercise caution when using heat sources on your roof to prevent fire hazards and damage to shingles.

4) Professional Assistance:

If the ice dam is extensive or if you’re uncomfortable with removing it yourself, consider hiring a professional roofing contractor. They have the experience and equipment necessary to safely remove ice dams without causing further damage to your roof.

Preventing Ice Dam Formations

While removing ice dams is essential, preventing their formation in the first place is even better. Here are some tips to help prevent ice dams:

  • Proper Insulation: Ensure your attic is adequately insulated to prevent heat from escaping and melting snow on the roof. Proper insulation helps maintain a consistent temperature across the roof surface, minimizing the risk of ice dam formation.
  • Ventilation: Good attic ventilation is crucial for regulating temperature and humidity levels. Install soffit and ridge vents to allow for proper airflow, helping to keep the roof surface cool and prevent snow from melting prematurely.
  • Roof Maintenance: Keep your roof clear of debris, such as leaves and branches, which can trap moisture and contribute to ice dam formation. Additionally, periodically inspect your roof for signs of damage or deterioration and address any issues promptly.
  • Snow Removal: After a heavy snowfall, use a roof rake to gently remove excess snow from the bottom few feet of your roof. This helps prevent the buildup of snow and reduces the likelihood of ice dam formation.

Professional Ice Dam Prevention

ice dam removal

Ice dams are a common winter problem that can cause significant damage to your roof and home if not addressed promptly. By understanding what ice dams are, the dangers they present, and how to safely remove them, you can protect your home and ensure your roof remains in top condition. Remember to prioritize safety when removing ice dams and take preventive measures to minimize their formation in the future. With these precautions in place, you can enjoy a safer and more comfortable winter season.

Remember: safety comes first! If you are not feeling confident in your ability to remove snow, don’t hesitate to reach out to a roofing professional for assistance. Questions? Contact McCormick Roofing today to get all the answers you need!


1917 McCague St, Pittsburgh, PA 15218


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