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How to Identify and Help Remove an Ice Dam

By Derrick Gelsomino, Jan 17 2017 04:46PM

This winter is off to a frigid start and it is exceedingly important to exercise correct safety precautions. As we snow blow and shovel our driveways, salt our sidewalks, brush the snow off our cars, we have a tendency to forget he most damaging effects of winter weather, ice dams.


Ice dams occur when heat from poorly insulated homes trickles through the attic and cause snow on the roof to slowly melt. The melted water then pours down the roof and eventually freezes into large icicles, causing water to pool behind it. While the hanging icicles can pose a risk if they should fall on someone, the buildup of water can also cause extensive damage to your home, including; Leaking roofs, wet and ineffective insulation, stained or cracked plaster or drywall, rotting timber, stained and blistered or peeling paint.


Your friends at Affiliated Insurance Managers wants to remind you that, while it is recommended to have a professional rid your house of an ice dam, you can take these steps to do the work on your own.


1. Use a roof rake to remove snow buildup from the roof.

2. Do not use a roof rake near any electrical wiring.

3. Do not climb on a roof or work on a ladder beneath a roof that has large amounts of snow on it. Use extreme care on the ladder.

4. Remove ice buildup around gutters by melting the ice with calcium chloride (other products may damage the roof shingles). For added effectiveness, purchase a pre-filled tube or put the melting agent inside a sock. This will release the melting agent gradually, allowing the water to drip harmlessly to the ground through a channel in the ice dam.\

5. After applying a melting agent, if you must chip the ice, do so very carefully NEVER strike your roof with an axe, hammer, or anything that will damage the shingles.


Affiliated Insurance Managers values the ability to educate our audience, and stress the importance of safety when dealing with an ice dam. If you decide to clear ice dams yourself, take extreme caution as they can cause serious injury or property damage. Keep an eye out for these warning signs of an ice dam, so you know exactly what you are up against.


1. Large icicles hanging from the gutters during cold-snaps following snow storms.

2. A thick blanket of snow down slope of bare shingles points toward trouble.

3. Water dripping from the roof overhang is a hint that a dam has already formed.



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