The Complete Guide to Treating and Preventing Ice Dams on Your Roof
Winter is a challenging season for the home. The tough winter conditions can put a strain on different components of the home, and snow and ice can cause damage in a number of different ways. Ice dams are one of the many ways snow and freezing temperatures can put a home at risk.
If you are looking for home maintenance tips for winter, you should consider the following methods for preventing and removing ice dams from your roof. When ice dams are allowed to form and go untreated, it can damage or loosen shingles, hurt your gutters, and can result in water leaking through the roof.
This post will explain how ice dams form, how to remove them by using things like warm water, deicer solution, and how to prevent ice dams by insulating, sealing gaps, ventilating, and cleaning your gutters. Read more to understand how some simple roof maintenance can help you avoid this problem.
How Ice Dams Form
Before moving on to ice dam solutions, it is important to understand how they form. Ice dam formation is the result of temperature differences at various parts of your roof. As heat escapes from the home and into the attic, the higher parts of the roof can get warm enough to melt snow and ice. As the snow melts, it runs down the roof until it reaches the colder eaves. Once it reaches these colder areas, it freezes again, forming an ice dam.
Once an ice dam forms, it can cause damage in a number of ways. One common problem with ice dams is that snowmelt from higher parts of the roof can run down and get trapped by the ice dam. It then backs up and can seep between shingles to cause a leak in your roof. This is why ice dam removal is an essential part of winter roof maintenance.
You also have to consider the weight of the ice. With the accumulation of ice and water, all of the extra weight can put a strain on your gutters. With enough weight, an ice dam could loosen or pull the gutters off your roof.
Ice Dam Removal
Now that you understand how ice dams form, we can start looking at a few ways to remove ice dams from your roof.
Get Rid of Ice Dams With Warm Water
This is more of a temporary ice dam solution, but it will provide immediate results if you are all out of options. Just spray some warm water along the ice dam to loosen it up.
You could even use a tool like the 20V Hydroshot Portable Power Cleaner. It can handle water of up to 104° Fahrenheit and it can draw from any fresh water source, making it is easy to introduce warm water to the system.
Ice Dam Solutions Include Using a Deicer
Another option to fix an ice dam is to use a deicer like calcium chloride to create a channel for the water to flow through. An easy way to do this is to pack an old pair of pantyhose with the deicer and tie off the ends. Lay this over the ice dam and the deicer will melt some of the ice. Once the ice melts, the water will be able to flow down to the gutters.
Using a snow rake is probably one of the best options for avoiding ice dams. It’s a great way to prevent snow from piling up on your roof, thereby removing the potential for a snow dam to develop.
It’s best to use this tool after a large amount of snow has fallen. With a snow rake, you can pull the snowpack down from the roof while staying safely on the ground. Just use the tool to pull the snow straight down in even strokes. You do not want to move the rake side-to-side or try using it while on a ladder.
How to Prevent Ice Dams
If ice dams form, you need to do what you can to get rid of them. However, the best option is to prevent ice dams from forming in the first place. The following are a few tips that will show you how to prevent ice dams.
Insulate to Avoid Ice Dams
Insulation is the key to keeping heat from escaping into the attic. By adding attic insulation, you can reduce the temperature in the attic, helping to prevent the snowmelt that results in ice dams.
Perform Roof Maintenance by Sealing Gaps
You should also air seal your attic. The holes and gaps where wires and pipes run can be another way warm air can get in the attic. By sealing these gaps with a firestop sealant, you can prevent excess amounts of warm air from getting in the attic.
No matter how well you seal your attic, some warm air is going to get up there. By adding some vents to your eaves, you can let some cold air in to keep the temperature down. You could even save some money by doing this job yourself. With a little bit of patience, and tools like a cordless drill and an oscillating multitool, you can install your own vents without much trouble.
Cleaning Your Gutters is a Top Home Maintenance Tip for Winter
When snowmelt runs down your roof, it needs somewhere to go. If you gutters are backed up and full of leaves and debris, water can back up in the gutters and this can contribute to the formation of ice dams.
Clean your gutters before winter to prevent the formation of ice dams. If you want to make this task easier, you could get a gutter cleaning kit for your leaf blower. Taking preventative measures is much easier than having to come up with frozen gutter solutions in the heart of winter.
Follow these home maintenance tips and keep your home ice dam-free for winter by using reliable tools from WORX!