Tips for Getting Rid of Ice Dams

January 2021 by Heartland Roofing Siding and Windows

Ice Dams on rooff

When icicles hang along the eaves of the house, they tend to look beautiful and attractive. However, they spell trouble because they can loosen shingles, tear off gutters, and make water go back up into the house. The conditions that allow the formation of icicles, snow-covered roofs in freezing weather, lead to ice dams. These are the thick ridges composed of solid ice, which build up along the eaves. In this article, we are going to share some of the fastest tips for ice dam removal, prevention, and long-term repair in Iowa.

Why You Should be Aware of Ice Dams

If you live in Minnesota, you know how cold it can get. During the cold seasons, icicles can be seen everywhere. However, you need to take action since the icicles may be an indication of an ice dam on your roof. Ice dams have a high potential of causing damage to your house. If they loosen shingles and tear off gutters, all the water will be going back into your house.

Ice Dams chart

Ice dams can cause more damages to your house even after the cold season. For instance, you may get warped floors, peeling paint, sagging, and stained ceiling. You may also get soggy insulation in the attic that loses R-vale and attracts mildew and mold. To avoid such damages and hefty expenses in repairs, it is advisable to get rid of the ice dams in the earliest possible time.

The Lifecycle of an Ice Dam

You can prevent ice dams from forming or deal with them better during the cold seasons, it is important to understand their life cycle. This way, you will be able to plan in advance and take the necessary measures.

ice dam growth

At birth, heat collects in the attic and makes the roof warms, but not the eaves. The warm roof melts the snow, which freezes on touching the cold eaves.  At the final stage, the ice collects and accumulates along the eaves to form an ice dam. The melted water from the roofs backs up being it and flows under shingles into the house.

Simple Ways of Preventing Ice Dams

The best way to keep your home safe and in good condition is to prevent it from possible damages. You can prevent ice dams in your home by using heated cables before the bad weather hits.

Simply attach heated cables with clips along the edge if the roof in a zigzag pattern. This will prevent ice dams from lifting shingles and causing leaks. This simple act will allow you to equalize the roof’s temperature in a proper way. You will be heating it from outside rather than blowing in cold are from the inside.

Quick Fixes for Ice Dam Removal

If you had not taken any measures to prevent ice dams before the bad weather struck, you will need to try some of the quick fixes. However, avoid certain actions like shoveling or using a hammer to hack away ice dams and throwing salt on them. To keep the ice dams in check, try these simple and effective quick fixes:

  1. Blow in Cold Air: The easiest way to remove ice dams blowing in cold air. Simply place a box fan into the attic, aiming it at the underside of your roof towards where water is leaking in. By target, cold air to this particular area will cause the water to free in its track. It will take you only a few minutes to stop the leakage.
  2. De-ice it: Use panty house to reduce the damage of an already formed ice dam. Simply fill a calcium chloride ice melter in the leg of a discarded pair of pantyhose. Then lay the hose onto the roof and allow it to cross the ice dam and overhand the gutter. Sometimes you may need to use a long-handled hoe or garden rake to push the hose into position. Within a short time, the calcium chloride will start melting through the snow and ice. This will create a channel through which the water will flow down, get into the gutters, and leave off the roof.
  3. Rake It: This is one of the quickest fixes to the ice dams. Use a long hand-held aluminum roof rake to pull off the snow as you stand on the ground. If you have a rake with wheels, the process will be a lot easier. Within no time, you will change the exterior temperature of the roof while avoiding damage to shingles.

What about Permanent Fixes?

While it may sound difficult, getting rid of permanent fixes is simple. The only rule of thumb is to keep the temperate of the entire roof at the same degrees as the eaves. This can be achieved by adding insulation, increasing ventilation, and sealing off all air leaks warming the underside of the roof. Prioritize these common trouble spots to get rid of ice dams once and for all.

  1. Ventilate Ridge and Eaves
    If your ridge vent is paired with soffit vents, they will be circulating cold air under the roof. Make sure both the soffit vents and ridge have the same size opening. Also, provide at least 1 sq. ft. of opening after every 300 sq. ft. of attic floor. Then put baffles at the eaves to keep the path clear for air flowing from the soffit vents.
  1. Keep the Hatch Capped
    A whole-house fan or an unsealed attic hatch creates an opening for heat escape. Take time to cover them with weather-stripped caps to form insulation. Use caps made of foil-faced foam board and hold them together with aluminum tape.
  1. Keep the Exhaust Facing Outside
    Ducts around the home and connected to the bathroom, kitchen, and dryer vents should lead outdoors wither through the walls or the roof. They should never lead through the soffit.
  1. Insulate
    Add insulation to the attic floor to keep more heat inside. Consulting with the building department in your area to find out how much it will cost you and start planning accordingly.
  1. Mount Sealed Can Lights
    They may sound old-styled, but these lights give off plumes of heat. Since you cannot insulate them without making them fire hazardous, they are ideal for keeping the heat it. Replace the lights with “IC” fixtures if you need to insulate them.
  1. Flash Around Your Chimneys
    Use L-shaped steel flashing to bridge the gap between your chimneys and the framing of the house. Hold the flashing in place using a fire-stop sealant. However, be aware that using insulation or canned spray foam is not fire safe.
  1. Insulate and Seal all the Ducts
    Use fiber-reinforced mastic to seal all the joints of the exhaust duct and HVAC ducts. Then cover the entire with either R-6 or R-5 foil-faced fiberglass.
  1. Seal all Penetrations
    Finally, seal around vent pipes and electrical cables with a fire-stop sealant. Check for any spots of lights shining up from below and seal then or where insulation is stained by dirt from the passing air.

How Heartland Roofing, Siding and Windows Can Help

Heartland Roofing, Siding and Windows, LLC is a trusted licensed general contractor who will help deal with the issue of ice dams. With a reputation of prompt and courteous service, you can always be sure that your home is in safe hands. Contact us today, and have an expert come your way to fix the problem.