How to Remove an Ice Dam

ice dam

Icicles are hanging from the roof, the ground is slick beneath your feet and you can spot snow, ice and debris above your head. The telltale signs are all there: You have an ice dam.

Now what are you going to do about it?

The short answer, of course, is to remove the ice dam. An ice dam is simply too dangerous to be ignored.

Before you remove an ice dam, you first must determine whether you will tackle the task yourself or hire a professional. Here’s what to consider when it comes to both options.

Getting rid of an ice dam yourself

It may seem counterintuitive, but the best way to remove an ice dam is to first focus on the snow. Ice dams require specific conditions to form, and the snow on your roof supports these conditions by acting as an insulator.

Start the ice-dam-removal process by using a roof rake to pull snow from your roof to the ground. Use a telescopic roof rake and try to remove the three to four feet of snow closest to the edge of your roof.

Once you've removed the snow, you’ll see the ice formation underneath. Use a ladder to reach this area and apply an ice melt product like calcium chloride. If you don't have a ladder or you're not interested in climbing one, you can also use throwable ice-melt solutions. These products, which are the size of small plates, are specifically designed to be thrown up on the roof to melt ice in hard-to-reach places.

Applying an ice-melt product is the safest, most efficient way to remove an ice dam from your home. Under no circumstances should you ever try to melt the ice with fire or chip away at the ice with an axe, pick, screwdriver or similar object. Doing so will only expose you to injury and your home to damage.

Hiring a professional to remove your ice dam

If you’d feel better leaving your ice-dam-removal project to the experts, head online to hire a contractor in your area. Look for one who will remove the ice dam using low-pressure steam as opposed to high-pressure washing, which can damage your roof.

Low-pressure steam may be expensive. But if you’re okay with the higher cost, hiring a professional will spare you from having to tackle one of winter’s most notorious weather issues.

Another way to protect your home during winter is by having the right homeowners insurance. Find out which coverages you need and get a free quote by talking to an Erie Insurance agent in your community.


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