Ice dams can create huge problems for your home. Contact the experts at Shanco today for a free roof replacement estimate.

The sight of icicles forming along your roof's edge can be quite captivating. For many, it marks the arrival of a picturesque Maryland winter, prompting photos and social media posts. However, to the experienced team at Shanco, these icicles serve as a harbinger of a more concerning problem: the looming threat of ice dam damage. 

Ice dam formation occurs when the heavy snowfall on your roof melts during the day and then proceeds to free at night. Following multiple days of this melting and freezing process, it's typical for liquid water and ice to find its way beneath the shingles, eventually infiltrating the attic and causing water damage to the ceilings, walls, and belongings. 

Why Do Ice Dams Form? 

As the temperature drops, it's natural for us to switch on the heating in our homes. As the interior of your home warms up, the underside of your roof should remain cool. If it becomes notably warmer in the attic, you may start to experience problems. 

The warmth may not extend to the edges of your roof, resulting in the formation of ice along the eaves of your house. This ice can accumulate into a larger dam and creep beneath the shingles, ultimately leading to roof damage and damage to your home. 

If you observe excessive heat in your attic, it's worth considering potential issues such as inadequate insulation or the possibility of blocked soffit vents. These problems, among others, could be the primary culprits behind heat loss in your home. 

Getting rid of an already formed ice dam is critical to reducing damage.

Ice Dam Prevention 

Ice dams can be a real headache for your roof, potentially leading to damaged shingles, interior leaks, and even gutter problems. Nobody wants to face costly repairs in the future, right? That's why it's crucial to learn how to tackle these pesky ice dams ASAP.  

When dealing with the pesky question of “how can I remove ice dams?”, remember to handle the situation with a lot of care, any harm to your shingles or gutters. Fixing ice dams permanently can be tricky, so don’t feel scared to hire a professional from your favorite roofing company for help. 

Here are a few safe methods to eliminate ice dams on your roof: 

  • Run Hot Water Over It: Gently melt the ice dam using hot water. Be cautious not to damage your roofing materials in the process. 

  • Install a Heat Cable: Consider installing a heat cable system to prevent ice dams from forming in the first place. Be aware that, even though heat cables are a great step to stay ahead of the game, they are not the best option for a dam that’s already exists.  

  • Use a Roof Rake: Remove snow on your roof to reduce the risk of ice dams forming. 

  • Pantyhose Method: Yes, you read that right. Fill the leg of a discarded pair of pantyhose with a calcium chloride ice melter. Then, you’ll want to lay the pantyhose on the roof so that it lays across the ice dam and over the gutter. Although this method sounds silly, the calcium chloride will produce enough heat, melting the snow and ice, creating a channel for it to flow into the gutters or off your roof. 

  • Pro-Tip- Be sure not to use standard rock salt because sodium chloride can damage shingles, rust nail heads, gutters, and other metals located on your roof.  

Problems That Ice Dams Cause  

Ice dams cause interior damage, water damage, and can cause mold and mildew to grow.

Having discussed methods for ice dam removal, it's equally important to understand how to prevent their formation. While your initial inclination might be to point fingers at your gutters, it's advisable not to jump to conclusions. In reality, inadequate attic insulation may be the actual cause of roof ice dams.

Focus on long term fixes for ice dam problems.

Here are some of the best ways to prevent ice dams long term:  

  • Capping the hatch in your attic: even if your attic is unsealed a bit, it is a massive opening for heat to escape. Make sure to cover any little sections that are unsealed with weather-stripped caps made from foil-faced foam board held together with aluminum tape. 

  • Insulation and ventilation: More insultation will keep the heat where it needs to be.  

  • Installing flashing around your chimney 

  • Insulating air ducts 

  • Employ the use of heated cables: Heated cables, also known as roof heating cables or heat tape, are an effective way to prevent ice dams on roofs. These cables are installed along the roof edges to ensure that ice dams are minimized or eliminated as a threat. 

  • Sealing any holes or any areas where air leaks. 

  • …and more! 

Get in Touch with Our Roofers to Learn More About Keeping Your Roof in Top Shape 

While we specialize in maintaining the excellent condition of your roof, we are also experts in ensuring your roof is in top shape, ready to withstand winter challenges. You can rely on Shanco's skilled professionals to address any roof damage you may encounter this winter. Don't hesitate to reach out to us for assistance! 

Shanco can help diagnose your ice dam problems. Call us today!