The arrival of winter often brings rain, wind, and snow. Unfortunately, for many households, snowstorms can bring about ice dams which can cause roof damage.

Bettering your knowledge of ice dams can help you to prevent future roof damage and understand how to deal with this problem when it arises.


What Are Ice Dams?

In Winter, icicles that form are usually a beautiful natural occurrence. However, they can sometimes cause real problems on your roof.

Ice dams are thick bands or ridges of ice that form at the edge of your roof and prevent water from melting snow from draining off.


What Causes Ice Dams?

Uneven roof temperatures is one of the main causes of ice dams. When you have an improper amount of insulation or poor ventilation, this can result in warm air gathering in your attic. Thus, the higher, central parts of the roof become warm enough to melt snow, which results in water running down the roof toward the gutters.

When the water runs down to the roof’s cooler edges, it freezes again and begins to form an ice dam. As more water runs down and freezes, the ice dam grows larger.

The ice dam acts as a barrier and prevents water from getting into the gutter so it can properly drain away. Instead, water builds up behind the dam or runs over the top of the gutter, which results in large icicles forming down the side of the house.


So Can Ice Dams Cause Roof Damage?

Ice dams can start to accumulate under the shingles. Once this happens, it can then soak into the deck of the roof and the sheathing.

If an ice dam manages to separate and fall off the roof, it can cause damage to both the gutter system and the shingles at the edge of the roof. Any items, landscaping, or people around the area under it, may also get hurt.

Ice dams can ruin insulation, wet roof trusses and can cause rot, mold issues, and even damage drywall and other parts of your home.

For individuals with allergies or sensitivities, mold can be the cause of respiratory problems. If mold or mildew has entered your home due to ice dams, it’s best to get a professional to address it during the repair process.


How Do You Get Rid Of Ice Dams?

While prevention is essential to avoid damage, there are some ways to remove ice dams.

DO NOT try to remove it yourself by chipping at it with an ax or hammer

If you attempt to remove the ice dam yourself by chipping at it, you risk damaging your roof layers by most likely punching a hold through your gutter or shingles.


Use a roof rake

While standing safely on the ground, use a roof rake to pull snow off your roof. This will get rid of any water that may have built up underneath.

Do not try to remove ice dams with any type of sharp tool as this can cause more damage to the roof.


Melt the ice with calcium chloride

Using calcium chloride is the compound that is used to melt ice that falls on sidewalks and driveways. This compound can be used to remove ice dams, however, do not sprinkle it on your rooftop, but rather fill pantyhose or tube socks with the granules and then tie the ends.

Position the socks’ vertically over the dam, with the sock’s end hanging an inch or two over the roof edge. This will melt the ice and create a channel through the ice dam, which will allow any excess water that melts to run safely off of the roof.


How Do I Protect My Roof From Ice Dams?

The best thing you can do is to prevent ice dams from occurring in the first place. There are a few preventative measures that you can use, which include:

  • adding proper insulation
  • adding proper insulation
  • removing heat sources from your attic
  • removing leaves from your gutter
  • sealing air leaks

Key Takeaways

If you were asking “can ice dams cause roof damage”, then the answer is yes. Ice dams can cause water to pool along your roof, which can damage your shingles and leak into the interior of your home.

To get rid of ice dams, you’ll want to use a roof rake or melt the ice with sodium chloride. However, the best solution to avoiding this problem is to prevent ice dams from occurring. Make sure your roof is properly insulated and ventilated to ensure even temperatures across its surface.