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winter tips for your roof

Ice Dam Removal​

Ice dams are one of the biggest threats to your roof during the wintertime. They can put tremendous pressure on your roof and gutters, causing your gutters to pull away from your house, damaging your shingles, and even leading to roof leaks. The longer the ice dams remain on your roof, the higher the risk there is for serious roof damage. Unless you have had the ability to get heat cables installed along your roof in the summer, there is no surefire way to prevent ice dams. Thankfully, there are a few tips and tricks on ice dam removal that can help you in the wintertime if the problem does start to build up with snowfall and sunshine.

What Is An Ice Dam?

Ice dams are the collection of ice on the edge of the roof. It’s caused by the underside layers of all the snow collected on your roof melting away and dripping down your roof. Once the melted snow hits the edge of the roof or the cold gutters, it freezes again, and the ice keeps collecting. It backs up along the edge, backs into your shingles, and can cause leaks and further issues with your roof. So, if you can walk outside and see a thick collection of ice and icicles along your roof and gutters, it’s likely an ice dam had already started to form. If they continue long enough, they can become dangerous as the ice melts. At some point, the ice will loosen, and if they are large enough pieces the ice can break things below it, hit someone, and pull the gutters down with them. It’s important to try and fix the problem before it becomes too large and hazardous.

Ice Dam Removal

Ice Dam Removal

It is always highly suggested that you call a roofing professional and allow them to treat your ice dams. Being on a roof or up on ladders can be dangerous on any day, and adding snow and ice can make this even more so. However, if hiring a professional is not an option, there are a few things that can be suggested if done carefully.

Calcium Chloride is very close to the same stuff that you can sprinkle on your driveway and sidewalks. Large department stores and home improvement businesses sell buckets of this specifically for putting it on your roof for ice dam removal and prevention. This allows the ice to continue melting as it should so everything can properly drain. However, calcium chloride is a chemical and this will wear and tear on your roof. It can cause erosion of your shingles, nails, and gutters. If used sparingly it can be a great help with ice dam removal, but it should not be considered the fix all winter long, every winter.

Rock salt and calcium chloride are not the same things! Do not put rock salt onto your roof as it is very damaging to your roof. The salt can also harm any plants below it and seep into the soil to make it difficult for future plants. When buying calcium chloride, make sure that you buy a product that says it is created for roofs and is plant safe.

Ice Dam Removal

There are other forms of ice dam removal such as breaking the dam into smaller pieces or pouring hot water over the existing ice, but we once again request that you use great caution with either of these forms of removal. Climbing onto the roof and breaking up large chunks of ice can lead to ice falling onto you or your ladder, and there is room for great injury. Just as climbing onto the roof with a bucket of hot water can lead to falls, burns, or frostbite due to being wet and cold. Because of the many risks these forms of ice dam removal carry, we do not recommend them. Instead, if there is an above-freezing day in the forecast, you can take a garden hose up a ladder and spray down your roof and gutters to remove the ice dam. But keep in mind that removing an ice dam can be time sensitive matter and you should always work with another person to steady your ladder and help you along the way. 

Ice Dam Prevention

The best thing you can do for ice dams is to prevent them altogether. Having a professional roof inspection during the changing of the seasons and cleaning your gutters at least 1-2 times a year will help prevent ice dams from forming on your roof. If your home has an ongoing issue with ice dams forming in the winter, heating cables are a great solution but you’ll have to wait until spring or summer to have them installed.

We know that the harsh Indiana winter weather can be hard on your roof and we want to make sure you, your family, and your home stay safe this winter. If you notice any issues with your roof or gutters this winter, don’t hesitate to contact us at