Ice Dams: Prevention and Removal
December 29, 2021

Icicles hanging off gutters and roofs are a common sight in Minnesota after getting a large amount of snow. Some icicles are harmless, but others are a sign of an ice dam, which can damage your roof and let water enter your home. If you have a large amount of icicles that appear to be connected to a large chunk of ice, you’re dealing with an ice dam.

Ice dams form for a few different reasons, but in general, they’re actually caused by heat. The most common situation is poor insulation in the attic of the home. When the home is being heated, that heat moves through the ceiling and insulation. If there isn’t good insulation, that heat will reach the attic roof, which will begin to heat the snow on top of it. That snow then starts to melt, causing water to run down the roof. When the water reaches the edge of the roof where that heat doesn’t reach, it freezes again. As more water continues toward that new section of ice, water gets dammed and starts seeping into the attic before it freezes, thus causing water damage in your home.

They can also be caused by unavoidable factors like sun and wind. When sections of snow get blown off and parts of the roof are uncovered, they’ll start to warm up and melt the surrounding snow. It’s important to have a well-insulated attic in order to prevent ice dams, however, along with a waterproof membrane on your entire roof or under the shingles at the edge to prevent damage.

No matter how the ice dam forms, it needs to be removed. If not done correctly, the asphalt roofing material can be damaged. We use an ice dam removal tool that uses a gentle cloud of steam, generally around 240 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. With high heat and low pressure, this ensures that the roof doesn’t get damaged in the process.

When you see an ice dam, don’t attempt to remove it yourself. A pressure washer is not the answer! The pressure from those can remove the shingles’ granules, which can allow the sun’s UV rays to damage the roof. If your pressure washer has a trigger handle and spray nozzle that is red, white, yellow, or green, don’t use it. Call Weathersafe for the proper removal!

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