Preventing Ice Dams from Building Up on Your Roof Over the Winter

Ice dams on your roof lead to a number of problems inside and outside your home. Not only do they help contribute to excessive weight on your home’s roof, but they also can lead to leaks, and in some cases, may even fall off the roof, causing damage or injuries.

There are a few ways to control ice dams that range from physical removal to installing heating coils to prevent water in your gutters from freezing. These are all good techniques for removing excessive ice from your roof, and will help to prevent damage, but you have to be proactive in order to make full use of them. Once the ice dam has built up, it’s too late to do anything but chip the ice away.

Physical Ice Dam Removal

Removing an ice dam physically requires some tools and a ladder. Typically what happens is that water or snow travels down from the peak of your house to the gutters, where it builds up and freezes. The problem is made worse if you didn’t remove the leaves from your gutters before the snow began falling. When snow builds up into an ice dam, it simply falls onto the shingles, slides down to the gutters, and then isn’t washed down the downspout. As more and more snow falls, adding weight to the bottom layers of snow, it compacts and turns to ice.

You can remove the small ice dam without damaging your shingles, but you have to work carefully. To begin with, use a car window brush or a push broom to pull away any built-up snow on top of the ice, leaving you with just the ice block itself. Remove any icicles hanging from the roof, being careful to avoid letting them fall on you. If the block is less than three inches thick, use a carpenter’s hammer to chip away chunks of the ice in a channel down the center. This will allow backed-up water to flow freely, being careful to avoid hammering the shingles. Once you’ve got the water and snow out of the way, use the hammer to remove any large chunks of ice.

Use extreme care when removing ice dams from your roof. Never walk on a snowy roof and ensure that your ladder is properly stabilized before beginning work. Otherwise, serious injury could result. If you have any doubts, having a professional do the work is an option you may want to look into.

Using Heating Elements for ice dam removal

Heating elements used for ice dam removal are best used before the ice dam forms. These typically are plugged into an exterior light socket and may be either permanently mounted or temporarily mounted. You have to be careful, though, not to expose the metal element to water, which could short out the element in some cases.

Install the heating wire in a zig-zag pattern along the bottom two feet of your roof, where ice is most likely to form. Use the fittings supplied with the heating element kit to avoid having to nail into your roof and cause leaks. When the weather is particularly cold, and there is a heavy snowfall followed by a mild warming trend, plug in the heating element to melt the snow that builds up, and then leave the unit plugged in until the snow has stopped falling or until the instructions tell you to discontinue using the ice dam removal heating element

Home Improvement web: Removing Ice Dams and Roof Ice Build-up:

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