How to handle ice dams - HMS National, Inc.

How to handle ice dams

February 3, 2015

Those icicles dangling from your roof may look pretty, but they could be a sign that something is amuck. Icicles form when there's water running off the roof but the air is still freezing. These same conditions can lead to ice dams, which can be extremely problematic for your home. Here's what you need to know about ice dams and how to handle them.

Why do ice dams form?
An ice dam is essentially a thick layer of ice that forms around the edge of your roof and prevents water from running off. explained that dams are created when heat rising from your home melts snow on the roof. The water begins to run off the building, but it often refreezes when it hits the cold edge of the roof. As this cycle continues, the layer of ice along the roof gets thicker and an ice dam forms. When this happens, water can no longer run off the roof and it can back up under your shingles or leak down your interior walls. Ice dams can also damage your gutters and the siding of your home.

How can you prevent dams?
There are a number of steps you can take to prevent ice dams from forming. One option is to use a roof rake to remove snow from the shingles after every storm and take time to clear your downspouts to allow your gutters to drain effectively. However, the most effective long-term solution is to reduce or eliminate any sources of heat in the attic and ventilate the attic space of the roof.

Can you remove ice dams?
If you notice that a dam has formed on your roof, it's in your best interests to remove it as soon as possible. You may need to hire a contractor to get rid of the ice buildup, especially if you have a multi-level house. If you can reach the roof safely, try to knock the dam off with a roof rake or sprinkle calcium chloride on it to melt a channel through it. When it doubt, it's better to call a professional to handle the problem. They'll also be able to tell you whether the dam caused any damage to your home.

The information in these articles is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.