Ice dams can cause catastrophic damage to your house – but what are they, and how do they create so many problems? This guide explains.

Why Are Ice Dams Bad?

Ice dams occur when snow melts on your roof, then re-freezes near the eaves, creating a dam-like ice mass. As the mass melts and refreezes, you may see icicles form on the edges of your roof. Though the icicles are pretty, they’re a sign that you may be in for major roof troubles unless you address the issue as soon as possible.

Ice dams can tear off your gutters, which poses a serious problem for water runoff. Without gutters, the water that your roof sheds ends up soaking the ground near your foundation. Even worse, they can loosen the shingles from your roof – and when that happens, there are plenty of pathways for water to get inside your roofing materials.

Related: 3 things you need to know about ice storms

How Do You Prevent Ice Dams?

You should have your roof inspected at least once a year to avoid problems like ice dams – and outside that, the best way to prevent them is to use heated cables on your roof. 

Related: Snow and ice preparedness: A Michigan primer

How Do You Get Rid of Ice Dams?

Don’t chip away at ice dams using a hammer, chisel or other instrument; doing so can damage your roof significantly. Sprinkling de-icing salt on them doesn’t work extremely well, either (and it can damage the grass and plants below the edge of your roof line with runoff). You can try:

  • Raking the snow off your roof to minimize the amount of water that eventually melts
  • Fill one leg of a pair of pantyhose with a salt-based de-icer and place it on your roof so that it crosses the ice dam while hanging over the edge of your gutter

If you have a leak, the best thing you can do is take a fan into your attic and aim it at the leak. In many cases, the cold air will freeze the water in place to stop the leak.

Do You Need a Disaster Remediation Expert in Washtenaw County or Jackson County?

If your home has already been damaged, we can help. Check out our services and call 734-352-9183 for your free disaster remediation quote today. We offer: