How to Get Rid of an Ice Dam

A formation of icicles on the edge of your roof can be gorgeous. To many, it signifies the setting in of a strong, beautiful Maryland winter, and is cause for pictures and social media posts. But to the experts at Shanco, icicles are simply the prelude to a more insidious issue: Ice dams.

Has our harsh Maryland winter caused serious harm to your roof? Contact Shanco today to learn about our expert roof repair services!

What Are Ice Dams?

You may have heard the term, but you might be a little unfamiliar with the specifics. An ice dam is a solid formation of ice along the eaves of your roof, created by meltwater getting blocked up and building (or snowballing, if you’re a fan of puns) into a literal dam made of ice. These present a number of very serious risks to your roof, including:

  • Damage to, or the destruction of, your gutters.
  • Irreparable roof damage
  • Water damage, as the dam prevents proper flow on your roof, thus trapping water.
  • Soggy insulation in your roof and attic, as the trapped water begins to seep into your home.

Ice Dam Prevention: What You Need to Know

Ice dams are a potent threat, but they aren’t impossible to avoid. take these steps to prevent ice dams from forming on your home!

  • Inspect your insulation. Inadequate insulation (or excessive, mind) is one of the primary causes of ice dams. Why? because heat from your home leaking onto the roof can cause snow to melt at awkward intervals, creating the possibility of ice dams. We would urge you to seek the assistance of an insulation professional to ensure everything is up to snuff!
  • Employ the use of heated cables. A great method of ice dam prevention, heated cables were created for just this kind of occasion. Clipped and fastened to the edges of your roof, these can easily ensure ice dams are a minimal threat at worst.


Sometimes, no matter what you do nature just wants to spite you. Be careful! Some of your knee jerk methods of treatment could do serious harm to your roof and home. Avoid the use of salt, which can do serious damage to your yard as it drains. Also resist the temptation to take heavy tools to the dam. A hammer might be tempting, but it can do more harm than good.

We recommend using a roof rake or a similar tool to gently pry off the dammed up ice. This is safe for your roof, and can remove the ice quickly. Using a gentle heat source is also an option. They make machines specifically for this purpose, but even heat-radiating hand tools can work just fine.
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Expert Solutions with Shanco

We may not be able to handle ice dam prevention for you, but we can absolutely help keep your roof in tip top shape! Call on the professionals at Shanco today if you’re experiencing any roof damage this winter!



see what our happy customers are saying

"Shanco Companies came up with the perfect solution for improving water drainage from the roof. The crews were professional and did a great job. I would highly recommend Shanco Companies."

-Silver Spring, MD


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