Ice Dam Removal Tips


Ice dam removal must be considered a vital maintenance procedure for a homeowner. An ice dam is a barrier of solid ice that forms in winter above the roof soffit over the eaves, the area between the vertical wall of a home and the edge of the roof. When snow melts above the ice dam, the water is trapped and may seep back into the walls of the house, causing damage to insulation, ceilings, and walls. In extreme cases, the water may actually flood through into the interior of the home, soaking furniture, carpet, bookshelves, and whatever else may be caught under the torrent.

There are two elements required for the formation of an ice dam: heavy snowfall and improper attic ventilation. If there are warm areas of the attic that cause snow to melt high up on the roof, the water seeps down and freezes at the soffit. Gutters may add to the problem by trapping ice or frozen debris.

The first step in ice dam removal is prevention. An attic that is properly insulated and ventilated will forestall the formation of ice dams. The rule of thumb is to provide one square foot of vent for every one hundred fifty square feet of attic floor area. Most attics have louvered or screened vents, each about a foot-and-a-half square at each of the vertical ends of the attic. If these vents are too small for the attic floor area, the solution is to install either larger vents or a thermostatically-controlled vent fan inside each vent.

The next step in ice dam removal is to remove the snow on the roof before the snow can melt and form an ice dam. You can do it yourself or hire a professional. Be aware that removing snow from a roof can be risky. Use a ladder and never ever walk on a roof covered with snow. Stand as high as safely possible on a ladder and use a push broom or snow rake to pull the snow down the roof slope — never pull snow across the roof slope.

If an ice dam has already formed upon the roof edge, remove the snow above the dam first. Make sure the ladder is not positioned directly below the section of the ice dam you will be working on. Pick low points in the ice dam and chip away at the ice with a hammer and chisel to form channels for water. Be careful when the tip of the chisel gets near the roof covering.

When attempting an ice dam removal, do not try to remove all the ice in the dam off the roof. You may be caught in an avalanche of ice and snow if you do.

If you would like to have a free estimate for roofing and/or guttering, please fill out the form on the left or call us at 405-741-6252.

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